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Is Thiruvananthapuram ready for long haul?

The daily surge in Covid-19 cases and scare of community spread are raising concern on whether the existing emergency facilities will be adequate if the district witnesses a huge spike.

Published: 01st July 2020 07:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 07:15 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While government hospitals have 283 ICU beds and 149 ventilators, private institutions have 47 ICU beds, 39 ventilators and 172 beds. Officials are confident that they can handle a surge and also cater to patients from neighbouring districts

The daily surge in Covid-19 cases and scare of community spread are raising concern on whether the existing emergency facilities will be adequate if the district witnesses a huge spike. In the next three months, thousands of Covid-19 cases are expected to be reported in the state and the demand for emergency care facilities will be crucial for bringing down the mortality rate.In Thiruvananthapuram, while there are 283 ICU beds and 149 ventilators in public sector healthcare institutions, the private sector has 47 ICU beds, 39 ventilators and 172 beds.

Though the authorities are ruling out the possibility of a community spread, several cases were reported in the district with no known source of infection which raise serious concern on emergency preparedness in the public health sector. Also, the number of containment zones in the district has also increased. As of MOnday, there are around 79 active cases and 207 confirmed cases in the district. Four Covid-19 deaths were also reported.

As per the current requirements, 10 per cent of every 100 cases will need emergency or critical care owing to the comorbidity factors and other health issues. Around eight lakh people in the district fall under the vulnerable categories, which include the elderly community.With the district expecting a huge influx of people from abroad and other states including migrants, according to health experts, preparedness to face any situation is the only way to tackle Covid-19 and efforts should be taken to increase the number of oxygen beds, ICU beds and ventilators.

An official of the Medical College Hospital (MCH), Thiruvananthapuram — the hospital treating highrisk Covid-19 patients — said that if the situation escalates the hospital will have to skeletonise non-Covid-19 treatments. The official said that currently, MCH continues to give super speciality and ICU treatment for non-Covid-19 patients. Category-C Covid-19 patients coming to the MCH have comorbidities relating to kidney, cancer and diabetes.

“If Covid cases keep increasing in the district, we will be forced to stop providing care for non-Covid-19 cases. We will be able to deal with only emergency cases,” said the official. Being an apex hospital in the district, thousands of people arrive at the hospital for various treatments daily. Even before Covid-19, the demand for ventilators and ICU beds had been high everyday.

“Now we have earmarked around 25 ICU beds for non-Covid-19 cases. We have arranged around 125 centralised oxygen beds for treating Covid-19 cases. As per the current treatment protocol, oxygen therapy is highly recommended and effective for many patients. A ventilator is only a last resort. Also, 75 per cent of the patients who were put on ventilators didn’t make it,” said the official. The official said that the emergency plan is to stop non-Covid-19 treatments and make available the facilities exclusively for Covid-19 patients.

However, many feel that compared to other districts Thiruvananthapuram has a foolproof public health care system. “If the situation escalates in the state, Thiruvananthapuram will be able to cater to patients from Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts. At present, we don’t see the need for large-scale hospitalisation,” said the official. An official with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) said that the district is well equipped to deal with any situation. “We have identified schools, hotels, hostels, rest houses etc which will be converted into hospital facilities for the patients. We are updating this list and are adding more infrastructure everyday,” said the official.

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