Kolkata: The state government on Monday instructed civic authorities and district administrations to set up micro-containment zones in Kolkata and the suburbs and asked hospitals to increase Covid beds by 20% even as fresh daily cases touched another record peak of 4,511 on Monday. On Sunday, the daily infection figure had reached 4,398, surpassing the highest daily peak of 4,157 recorded on October 22 during the first wave.
At a meeting with district magistrates, district chief medical officers and health department officials, chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay also asked laboratories and hospitals to ramp up RT-PCR tests in every district. The number of safe homes needs to be increased across districts and maximum emphasis must be given on testing, tracking and treatment, Bandyopadhyay said.
The chief secretary has also convened a meeting of industry chambers and associations to discuss the Covid situation on Tuesday. The deputy director-general of the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce, S Roy, confirmed to TOI that they had received a letter in this regard. Representatives of the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India are also likely to attend the meeting.
The record surge in cases has once again resulted in an acute shortage of Covid beds across hospitals, forcing many to refuse patients over the last two days. The hospitals had shrunk their Covid wards drastically after the numbers dropped in February and are now finding it difficult to re-expand the wards as several non-Covid patients are already admitted there. At least two private hospitals have decided to stop adm-itting non-Covid patients except emergency cases.
Non-Covid services may take a hit: Hosps
At Medica Superspecialty Hospital, the 140-bed Covid ward is filled to capacity. Chairperson Alok Roy said the hospital currently has more than 160 non-Covid patients and can’t increase Covid beds without a reduction in the number of other patients. “We have just added a new Covid unit at our annexe building but have no more space. If the Covid numbers keep rising at this rate, we will stop admitting nonemergency non-Covid patients,” Roy said. The number of Covid beds at the hospital had dropped to just 20 in March.
The Belle Vue Clinic has reduced non-Covid beds to just 46, even as Covid beds have jumped from 83 to 114 in a week. It plans to add 44 more beds by Thursday. “We will keep reducing non-Covid admissions as the Covid numbers rise. We now have a Covid waiting list of 28 and it is sure to get longer as the week progresses,” said Belle Vue CEO P Tondon. He added that the hospital plans to have 37 critical-care beds for Covid by the end of week. It has 20 now.
Across its three units, AMRI Hospitals have hiked the number of Covid beds to 200 from just 50 in March, but had to refuse a couple of Covid patients on Sunday, CEO Rupak Barua said. “There has been a sudden and very sharp rise in the flow of Covid patients, including critical ones. We have been forced to expand our units at all three centres-…….But since we have a large number of non-Covid patents, too, including emergency patients and those lined up for surgeries, we are faced with space limitation. Considering the rise in demand for Covid beds, we are keeping a close watch on the situation and will keep changing the number of Covid and non-Covid beds to maintain a balance,” he said.
Till last Sunday, the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences had just 21 Covid beds. Yesterday, all 87 of its Covid beds were occupied.