Patients rush to Rajshahi as district hospitals struggling
With district-level hospitals unable to provide adequate facilities, Covid-19 patients have been rushing into Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) in the divisional headquarters.
The situation turned worse since increase in the infection rates in the frontier district of Chapainawabganj, where the district administration imposed a seven-day lockdown since Tuesday.
"We are struggling to accommodate patients," RMCH director Brig Gen Shamim Yazdani told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said they could accommodate 30 new patients yesterday -- 15 of them from Chapainawabganj -- as some 13 patients died in last 48 hours.
RMCH, that has a capacity of taking in 150 Covid-19 patients, was treating 162 patients yesterday.
Of the patients, 86 were from Chapainwabganj alone as the district started seeing a surge in infections two weeks after Eid.
Directorate General of Health Services could arrange only 41 ICU beds in four hospitals in two districts of Rajshahi and Bogura for Covid-19 patients, among eight districts in Rajshahi division.
The six other districts -- Joypurhat, Pabna, Sirajganj, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon and Natore -- have no ICU support, according to information by the divisional health directorate.
The RMCH director said they were lobbying hard for five more ICU ventilators for the last year.
"Serious patients don't go to the hospitals in the district," Dr Zahid Nazrul Chowdhury, Civil Surgeon of Chapainawabganj, told The Daily Star yesterday.
"Those patients directly go to Rajshahi," he said, adding that they referred only four patients since coronavirus outbreak in the country in March last year.
Chapainawabganj hospitals have the capacity to provide 20 litres Oxygen per minute, but patients requiring ventilators need to visit Rajshahi, he said.
The district health chief said they have been pleading with the government for providing ICU support since the beginning of the pandemic, but those facilities were yet to reach them.
The division's infection detection rate was recorded at 28 percent on Tuesday, when samples of 988 persons were tested and 275 came out positive.
But in Chapainawabganj alone, 59 percent of samples tested from 270 people were positive; the district's infection detection rate was 55 percent the day before.
In Rajshahi, the infection rate was 16 percent yesterday, while the rate was 33 percent the previous day.
The districts in the division also lack coronavirus testing facilities, with only six RT-PCR laboratories testing samples from all eight districts.
The health directorate allocated funds and equipment for installing three more RT-PCR labs in Rajshahi, Pabna and Naogaon, but none of those could start operation in the last three months.
However, local authorities in Chapainawabganj are likely to launch an RT-PCR laboratory from today in the wake of increasing coronavirus infection rates.
The government RT-PCR lab that has been working on tuberculosis so far was prepared for detecting coronavirus and is likely to start testing coronavirus samples from today, Dr Zahid Nazrul Chowdhury told The Daily Star yesterday.
He also said the beds for treating coronavirus patients was increased to 50 from 10.
Prof Sabera Gul Nahar, the in-charge of Rajshahi Medical College's RT-PCR lab said they had to operate in four shifts a day whereas most laboratories are performing only one shift.
She said her laboratory has been testing 500 samples daily on average.
"In the last few days, we had to leave more than 150 samples a day for testing on the next day," she said.