August 19, 2021 7:56:28 pm
Although the Karnataka government-appointed committee of experts recommended 1,838 to 3,677 beds for Bengaluru to tackle the possible third wave, when children may be the worst-affected group, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) feels this is an overestimation. They also said going by the current pattern, the city will not require that many beds.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and there is no need to panic. We will not face any shortage of beds for the predicted third wave. Moreover, we are prepared to treat children,” BBMP chief commissioner Gaurav Gupta said.
The city currently has 1,939 beds for Covid treatment across government and private facilities with only 129 beds occupied. Out of these, 868 are HDU beds (45 occupied), 139 ICU beds (15 occupied) and 203 ICU ventilator beds (17 occupied).
The expert committee advising the Karnataka government on the preparedness for the third wave had said two months back that Bengaluru will have to increase its capacity of paediatric ICUs by over 360% — from 60 beds to 280 beds — to prepare for a severe outbreak among children in the third wave.
“We have a paediatric committee which looks into the requirement of hospital beds. Largely, children are asymptomatic and there is no cause of worry. Children who contracted Covid are having mild to moderate symptoms and are recovering at home. There is no general alert and the situation is not alarming. When the schools reopen, the usage of masks, sanitisation will be anyway compulsory and children will be tested if any symptoms are found,” said BBMP special commissioner (health) D Randeep.
The special commissioner said BBMP doctors had been trained to treat children at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health which has 40 beds. He added, “A 30-bed child care centre has been established at Dr Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital which has two ICU, eight HDU, 20 oxygen-supported beds. Children with mild and moderate Covid symptoms will be treated here. The number of hospital admissions is very low. During the Covid-19 emergency, we had already set up a fever clinic and a triage centre at the hospital,” Randeep said.
According to Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban district J Manjunath, health facilities dedicated to the treatment of children have been created in areas around BBMP limits (the main city limits) of Bengaluru as well. “The Anekal General Hospital, which will soon be launched on the outskirts of Bengaluru, will have 20 paediatric ICU beds,” the DC said.
“The age profile of patients is constantly being monitored. If the number of affected children increases, we will immediately increase the number of beds. The situation is not alarming now. Our aim is to contain the spread of the virus so that we do not come to a situation of a lockdown,” he said.
A member of the expert committee that advised the state on the preparedness for the third wave, Dr Senthil Kumar, a paediatrician, said the percentage of Covid positive cases in the below 18 age category has remained around 11%.
“The hospitalisation rate is about 2-3%. The total population of children less than 20 years old is about 40%. The requirement of a paediatric ICU bed is less than 1%. Considering these statistics, BBMP has estimated the number of paediatric beds required in the city,” Dr Kumar said.
“The availability of paediatric beds, including HDU and PICU facilities, are currently limited to Bengaluru. BBMP is revamping many centres for paediatric care considering the third wave,” he said. Even if the third wave affects children, their treatment can be managed at home, Dr Kumar indicated.
“Severity of Covid illness among children is less than 1 % with a mortality rate less than 0.01%. Personally, I think children won’t get a severe illness,” he said.
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