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Mumbai gets 500 more ICU beds

By Sagar Pillai and Eeshanpriya MS, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 11, 2020 05:43 PM IST

Anticipating a rise in Covid-19 cases in the coming days, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to add 500 more intensive care unit (ICU) beds to boost the capacity by 40% by the end of the month. The current ICU bed capacity is 1,164, with 99% occupancy. Experts feel the current capacity of ICU beds is not enough, considering the number of cases that require immediate ICU attention.

Municipal commissioner IS Chahal said, “By the end of this month, we will add 500 more ICU beds to the existing capacity. A total of 300 beds will be added in the next 10 days and 200 will be added by June 30.”

The city witnessed 97 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of fatalities recorded so far, taking the toll to 1,855. It recorded 1,567 cases, which took the count to 52,667. Of the total, 26,178 cases are active.

BMC, however, said the situation is under control, as the doubling rate has increased to 24.5 days from 11 days at the start of May.

Clarence Pinto, a health activist, said, “As the lockdown is being lifted, the number of patients will definitely go up. At least 10% of the total cases [which would be 2,617, considering the total number of current active cases] would require ICU attention. There are cases where patients are travelling a distance in ambulances just to find ICU beds. The current capacity is definitely not enough.”

The total number of completely or partly sealed buildings has reached 4,538. The highest number of sealed buildings, 443, is in F-North ward which includes Matunga, King’s Circle and Sion. The total number of containment zones has gone up to 798, of which a majority (116) are located in R-North ward, which comprises Dahisar and Borivli.

In what seems to be a good sign, Dharavi continues to show a decline in the number of cases. On Wednesday, 11 cases were reported in Dharavi, bringing the total to 1,964. The G-North ward (Dharavi-Dadar-Mahim) has so far reported 3,111 cases and 100 deaths. After 10 days, two deaths were recorded in Dharavi and one in Mahim on Wednesday.

Chahal also said Mumbai has not seen a single death due to unavailability of dialysis procedure in the past 20 days. Unavailability of dialysis procedure for Covid and non-Covid patients was a major cause for concern for BMC, and was adding to mortality in Covid-19 patients.

The chaos was mainly due to lack of clarity among hospitals on handling Covid-19 patients who come for dialysis. The Union Health Ministry’s guidelines for dialysis of Covid-19 patients says they are a “vulnerable group because of their existing comorbidities, repeated unavoidable exposure to hospital environment and immunosuppressed state...”

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, said, “We have streamlined the entire process for those in need of dialysis, by issuing guidelines to hospitals and all others concerned. Due to our efforts, we have not got any complaints in the past 20 days. Complaints came earlier because there was no clarity, but we have worked on it.”

By May 26, BMC had also started a dashboard for bed management for dialysis patients, so doctors could refer patients to those hospitals. In a video-conference with the media, Chahal had said BMC had managed to bring down the mortality rate in Mumbai, which hovered around 6% in March and April, to 3.2% by the end of May, due to reasons that included greater care toward Covid-19 patients on dialysis.

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