Critical care preparedness needs booster shot amid rising COVID-19 cases in India: Experts

As per government figures, the number of patients in ICU has hovered around 1.5%-2.5% of the active cases.

Published: 08th September 2020 05:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th September 2020 09:43 AM   |  A+A-

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a passenger for COVID-19 test at a facility erected at a railway station to screen people coming from outside the city, in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: As Covid-19 cases continue growing unabated in India, scientists and researchers have called for a coordinated effort by public health organisations and the professional societies to ensure adequate delivery of intensive care to critically-ill coronavirus patients.

In a paper titled ‘Challenges in the delivery of critical care in India during the Covid19 pandemic’ published in the Journal of Intensive Care Society, researchers have highlighted the unprecedented demand that the infectious disease has placed on the healthcare system in the country.

India meanwhile reported the highest daily tally of 90,802 cases on Sunday which was more than the total cases reported from 9 other worst hit countries in the pandemic. Behind only the USA, in terms of the overall official cases, India is expected to overtake the USA next month if the spread of the disease remains the same. 

As per government figures, the number of patients in ICU has hovered around 1.5%-2.5% of the active cases. In the paper, authors have argued that even if less than 5% of patients require critical care services, this will still rapidly overwhelm the healthcare system in a country, where intensive care services and resources are scarce and unevenly distributed.

There is also a huge shortage of availability of beds having oxygen supply with one estimate putting it at 1,20,000 beds in the whole of the country. Demand for ventilators is also bound to increase and currently the number varies between 15,000 to 48,000. 

“We also need more doctors and nurses with ICU training”, the researchers have noted.  the authors.
While the number of infected requiring ICU care is variable between countries, in India, Union government  data suggest that around 2.5% of patients require intensive care, the paper says. 

“This is likely an underestimate as several states have not reported the breakdown of illness severity,” it notes. “Even if these numbers are staggered and assuming that 2.5% of patients would need critical care (125,000–375,000), this case-burden would overwhelm any healthcare system.”

“Moreover, the pandemic is expected to persist for a longer duration, and given India’s unique circumstances, the flattening of the curve will take longer,” researchers have said.

“With the anticipated increase in case numbers, a coordinated effort by various public health organizations and the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine will be crucial for ensuring adequate delivery of intensive care to critically ill Covid-19 patients.”


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