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Chandigarh hospitals struggle to put Covid crisis to bed

91% ICU beds occupied on a day when Centre listed Chandigarh among 24 states and UTs with a positivity rate higher than 15%
By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAY 08, 2021 01:33 AM IST
Government hospitals are diverting resources from other wings to ensure all patients are attended to. (HT Photo)

Tenth worst-affected place in the country with a Covid positivity rate of 26.7%, Chandigarh continued to grapple with shortage of critical care beds for the third straight day on Friday.

As many as 91% of the ICU beds available at various government and private health facilities in the city remain occupied, leaving only 13 ventilators available.

According to official data, as of Friday evening, no ICU bed was vacant at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16; Dedicated Covid Hospital in Sector 48, and three of the seven private hospitals offering Covid care. Those available at other hospitals are mostly reserved for paediatric, surgical and other critical patients.

Chandigarh hospitals struggle to put Covid crisis to bed

“As soon as a ventilator bed gets vacant, there are 10 more patients waiting in line. But, every patient is being attended to through alternative measures. No one is being turned away,” said Dr Ajay Singh, assistant professor of anaesthesiology department, who is managing a Covid ICU in PGIMER.

To tackle the rising patient load, the hospital has converted some areas in the emergency block into Covid wards. “More beds are being set up wherever oxygen points are available. Not all patients may get the required facilities, but oxygen is being provided in non-ICU areas as well,” said Dr GD Puri, head of the Covid management panel at PGIMER.

At GMCH-32, where just one ICU bed is left vacant, director-principal Dr Jasbinder Kaur said they were working on adding 20 ICU beds, of which six were made available on Friday. Besides, more non-Covid ICUs will be utilised for Covid patients, she said.

Dr Sanjeev Palta, nodal officer of ICU management at the hospital, said, “We are constantly monitoring patients to prevent their condition from worsening. If beds run out, alternative arrangements are quickly made.”

Worrisome positivity rate

On Friday, the Union health ministry expressed concern over Chandigarh’s high positivity rate, while listing it among 24 states and UTs with a figure higher than 15%. Goa leads the chart at 48%.

However, the ministry also observed that the cases were plateauing in the city, with no significant spike in the recent past. “Analysis of the seven-day average shows daily cases have remained on one level in Chandigarh,” a ministry’s representative said at a media briefing. There were 15 other states and UTs with similar trends.

UT health secretary Arun Gupta said for the past two weeks, the cases had remained in the 700 to 900 bracket, neither showing a major spike nor drop, which is a positive indication.

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