Hospitals swamped by Covid patients
Hospitals across the country have been struggling to cope with a sharp rise in Covid-19 patients as infections from the highly transmissible virus continue to surge.
As of yesterday afternoon, at least 10 hospitals were treating more patients with Covid-19 or with coronavirus-like symptoms than the hospitals' capacities would allow, according to data from the Directorate General of health Services (DGHS).
Four of those hospitals were in Rajshahi division, three in Chattogram and one each in Rangpur, Khulna and Barishal divisions.
The number of hospital admissions has increased by around 267 percent across the country over the past two weeks.
In the first four days of July, an average of 7024 patients were being treated for Covid-19 in the hospitals each day. This number was only 2,628 countrywide between June 15 and June 18.
In July, hospitals in Dhaka division were treating three-and-a-half times more patients compared to mid-June.
Hospitals in Rajshahi division saw around a 148-percent increase in hospital admissions during the same period, followed by 143 percent in Khulna division.
The picture is similar in all other divisions, with the number of patients rising.
Each of these divisions have also been seeing a surge in deaths.
Between May and June, Rajshahi saw weekly deaths rise from 15 to 48. From June to July, this number rose by 157 percent to a weekly death toll of 139.
The same trend can be seen in Khulna. In the first week of May, Khulna saw seven deaths. In the last week, ending on July 3, Khulna had 252 deaths.
In Barishal deaths rose by 340 percent from the first week of June, while in Rangpur, deaths rose by 204 percent in the same period.
Chattogram saw 61 deaths in the first week of June, but last week the division reported 139 deaths – an increase of 157 percent.
In Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH), there were 80 additional patients in the 385-bed Covid-19 unit of the hospital while all 20 ICU beds were occupied as of yesterday noon.
Doctors of the hospital said they have been receiving an average of around 75 patients daily for the last couple of weeks and at least 40 percent of them are being brought to the hospital at a critical stage.
Many of the patients cannot survive as the ward lacks the required logistical support, they said.
With a shortage of devices providing high-flow oxygen support, doctors have been sharing the available devices between patients.
For example, a doctor at ward-32 of the RMCH had to share one high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) among four patients aged between 32 and 42 at a time on June 29.
On June 29, a doctor at ward-32 of the RMCH had four patients aged between 32 and 42 requiring high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) support, and she had just one HFNC to share among them.
"I decided to ration the lone high-flow oxygen device between them in three-hour chunks. When I was taking away the machine from one patient to give to another, the patient's son started crying and asking me not to do that. I couldn't resist my tears, but I had no alternative," the doctor told The Daily Star yesterday.
The next day, the hospital authority provided two additional high-flow nasal cannulas to that ward.
As of yesterday, the hospital had 69 HFNCs, according to officials.
District-level hospitals in Chapainawabganj, Natore and the Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital were also struggling with additional patients.
Six other hospitals in different districts in Rajshahi, were almost at capacity.
As of yesterday noon, only 147 general beds for Covid-19 patients were vacant in 10 hospitals in Rajshahi division. Meanwhile, only 11 ICU beds out of a total of 46 were vacant, indicative of an increase of critical patients.
In Khulna division, where the highest number of deaths has been reported for last the last seven days in a row, around 980 patients were undergoing treatment in 10 Covid-19 hospitals. Besides, there were 44 patients in the ICU beds in those hospitals.
The Kushtia Sadar hospital was treating 65 patients over its 190-bed capacity in the Covid-19 general wards. All four ICU beds were occupied.
In the past 24 hours till 8:00am yesterday, the highest 51 Covid-19 patients died in Khulna division, out of a countrywide total of 153.
In the past 32 days, a total of 159 people died in the Covid-19 unit of Satkhira district. Of them, 82 percent (131) deaths were with Covid-19 symptoms.
To tackle the rush of the Covid-19 patients, authorities of Rangpur Medical College Hospital (RpMCH) has increased the number of beds in its Covid-19 unit from 100 to 131 yesterday, reports our Dinajpur Correspondent.
Of all general beds, 91 have a central oxygen supply line meanwhile the eight functional ICU bed in this divisional level hospital has been occupied for the last two weeks.
Relatives of patients alleged that a patient died when the oxygen supply was disrupted for technical reasons for half an hour on Saturday.
As of yesterday noon, there were 20 patients in the queue for the ICU.
Dr Nurun Nabi, superintendent of the Covid-19 unit at RpMCH, told The Daily Star, "We are struggling as more patients are coming from nearby districts every day. Most of the patients need critical care, including ICU support. We, however, have no alternative as we have shortage of such support."
In Dinajpur, the authorities of M Abdur Rahim Medical College Hospital (MARMCH) have also decided to increase the number of beds for Covid-19 patients from 100 to 135.
For the last couple of weeks, this hospital has also been overburdened with additional patients.
On Sunday, at least 130 patients were undergoing treatment at MARMCH against its capacity of 100 Covid-19 patients. Besides, all 16 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients were occupied as of yesterday noon.
Abu Mohammad Zakirul Islam, the Rangpur divisional health director (acting), said, "As the number of Covid-19 cases has been on the rise in Rangpur division, we have decided to increase the number of beds."