The government has decided to double the number of Intensive Care Unit beds in Dhaka to accommodate the surge of Covid-19 patients.
"We are working to double the [number of] ICU beds in Dhaka hospitals within seven to 10 days," Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told The Daily Star yesterday.
The decision to ramp up the ICU facilities, as well as general beds, in both public and private hospitals came after a meeting yesterday between the DGHS and the hospital officials.
The meeting was aimed at assessing the current situation and devising the next course of action, said Khurshid Alam.
Ventilation support is a key factor for critical Covid-19 patients. Over the past few weeks, as the Covid-19 infection rate spiked again, patients and their relatives have been complaining about not getting ICU support or general beds at public and private hospitals in the capital.
The number of daily coronavirus cases crossed the 7,000-mark for two consecutive days as 7,075 new infections were recorded yesterday.
According to the updated DGHS statistics, there are 2,555 Covid-19 general and 128 ICU beds in government hospitals in Dhaka. There are 772 general and 180 ICU beds in private hospitals.
The DGHS said that it has already started increasing the number of ICU beds.
"We will increase ICU beds in public hospitals to more than 200," he said, adding that normal beds would be increased to around 5,000.
He also said the process was on to turn the Dhaka North City Corporation kitchen market in Mohakhali into a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients.
"This will be the largest Covid-19 dedicated hospital in the country and there will be 251 ICU and HD beds. The main feature of this hospital would be that we will provide ICU facilities in all 1,200 beds," the DGHS director general said.
He added that not only the ICU beds but the general beds will also be doubled by this time as all Covid-19 designated hospitals have begun expanding.
For example, he said, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital has already added 200 beds and will add another 200 in the next few days.
The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases has also already started working to open 200 additional beds.
The National Institute of Mental health and National Institute of Kidney Diseases and Urology have started adding 100 beds each.
Even private hospital, like Asgar Ali Hospital, Evercare Hospital and United Hospital, have started increasing the number of their beds as well, he said.
The DG also said the meeting has decided to provide no objection certificates to public hospitals so that they can purchase the Meropenem injection, which is used in Covid-19 treatment, from their own sources.