- Number of Covid-19 patients at the DMCH has increased by about 50% compared to February
- Number of empty ICU beds decreased from 190 to 119 within two weeks
- Since vaccinations started, many people have been ignoring hygiene rules and contracting Covid-19
Intensive care unit (ICU) vacancies in Covid-19-dedicated hospitals are dwindling as infections and deaths from the virus have been increasing in the last few days.
Professor Dr Nazmul Islam, director of Communicable Disease Control and spokesperson of DGHS, told The Business Standard that the number of Covid-19 patients at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital has increased by about 50% compared to February and the patients' queue for ICU beds has increased a lot.
An analysis of the Directorate General of Health Services' (DGHS) data shows that currently there are only 119 vacant ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in various public and private hospitals in the capital. However, even two weeks ago (on 1 March) there were 190 empty ICU beds in Dhaka hospitals.
According to the DGHS, there have been no vacancies in the ICU of the Kurmitola General Hospital and Mugda Medical College and Hospital for the last six days. These two government hospitals have 10 and 14 ICU beds, respectively. Meanwhile, all 12 beds in the ICU at the Evercare Hospital, a private clinic, are occupied by critical Covid-19 patients.
The infection rate in the country had been below 5% for about two months, but new patient detection and the infection rate have been going up since last week. The infection rate remained above 6% on Friday and Saturday.
According to the World Health Organization, the situation is considered under control if the Covid-19 infection rate is below 5% for three consecutive weeks.
The number of daily cases also exceeded 1,000 on Wednesday (10 March) after staying below the benchmark for two months.
Dr Shoman Aniruddha, an anesthesiologist at the ICU of Mugda General Hospital, told The Business Standard (TBS), "The number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital has increased a lot. Even 15 days ago, one or two beds in the ICU remained empty. But now the number of patients waiting for ICU beds has increased a lot."
He also said the patients' conditions are rapidly deteriorating now compared to the patients they treated earlier. Since the vaccinations started, some people are no longer wearing masks and not following the hygiene rules, so more people are contracting the virus.
"People no longer follow the hygiene rules after they receive the first dose of the vaccine. So, some patients are dying in the ICU even after taking the vaccine," said Dr Shoman.
Requesting anonymity, a doctor at the ICU in Kurmitola General Hospital said, "We had a chance to breathe a little for a couple of months. We could shift the patients to general beds when their conditions improved after receiving treatment at the ICU. The mortality rate was much lower."
"Within a week the situation has changed. We are now fighting to keep the patients alive and sometimes losing the battle," he said.
The Covid-19 crisis peaked in the country from June to August last year. At that time, a crisis of ICU beds had also arisen and many patients died due to lack of intensive care. Experts urged the authorities concerned to increase the number of ICU beds again to deal with infections during this summer.
Prof Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told TBS, "The number of patients has been increasing over summer and will increase further. Now the hospitals need to provide more ICU beds, oxygen and high flow nasal cannulas while the public needs to take preventive measures to control the infection."
Director (Hospitals and Clinics) of DGHS Dr Farid Hossain Miah said Covid-19 infections and demand for the ICU beds are increasing but there are still some vacant ICU beds in the hospitals.
"Hospitals are in the process of installing ICU beds to cope with the increased demand. There are vacancies in ICU beds in hospitals outside Dhaka but there is some crisis inside the city. People need to be forced to follow hygiene rules. If the infections increase further, arrangements will be made to increase the number of ICU beds," he added.