June 3, 2021 3:00:40 am
On May 2, Chandigarh had reported 860 new Covid cases, with the total number of active cases on that day standing at 7592 and the positivity rate hovering at a high of 21.44 per cent.
Exactly a month later, the tally of new cases for Chandigarh had fallen to 134 and the active cases had dipped to 1251, with the positivity rate hovering around the 4.78 per cent mark.
In the month of May, the highest positivity rate in UT was reported on May 11 at 27.82 per cent, with the lowest for the month being recorded on May 30 at 5.5 per cent and on May 31, at 4.8 per cent. The World Health Organization says that an outbreak of a disease is considered to be under control when the positivity rate is under 5 per cent for two weeks.
The UT in the second Covid wave, witnessed an acute shortage of hospital oxygen and ICU beds.
PGIMER in the last two weeks of April had increased ventilators from 55 to 72 and added more than 22 beds to accommodate the rising new cases, with Prof. Jagat Ram, the PGI Director admitting that they were on the edge.
In GMCH-32, Sector 48, more than 255 beds were reserved for Covid patients, while more than 20 beds with oxygen were added at GMSH-16 to meet the rising demand from across the Tricity and also from the region.
In last one week, there has been an increase in vacant oxygen beds in all Government Hospitals, though a high number of ICU beds with ventilators are still occupied in all hospitals. Data said that all 8 ICU beds were occupied in GMSH-16, and 12 ICU beds were vacant in PGI and 23 in GMCH-32.
“Yes, after very tight days and months, we are getting some breathing space, experiencing some ease, and doing better. Our oxygen consumption has also gone down. For more than a year now, it has been a tough battle. While the number of vacant oxygen beds has increased, the same cannot be said about ICU ventilator beds, with as many as 65 out of 78 occupied as of June 2 and many patients who are coming to the emergency ward of the institute testing positive. So, we have to wait and watch before we open things, including the OPDs, for it will take a month more for the number of cases to come down to a safe level. We can’t let our guard down just yet,” reflected Prof. Jagat Ram, adding that all protocols needed to be followed.
“We will have 30 more ventilators, upgrade our oxygen capacity to 3,000 litres per minute and are also testing facilities for the next wave,” he said.
According to Prof. Ram, we cannot make presumptions, but only take definite measures to prepare for the third wave.
He said that we were not prepared for the severity of the second wave, which was four times higher than the first wave, with a larger population affected and the mutants leading to severe disease and many deaths.
“We have to follow all Covid protocols, wear masks, and increase vaccination to check the third wave. A number of people have been infected and have recovered, and that will hopefully help. We should not think narrowly, and prepare for much more than what we expect, to the best of our capability. We must start now. As we faced a shortage of ventilators and keeping in view the requirement for the future, we will procure 30 more ventilators soon and also upgrade our three oxygen plants, increasing the oxygen capacity to 3,000 litres per minute, keeping in view the third wave. The number of beds can be increased, as we did in this wave, with our entire team of doctors, residents, nurses, technicians having worked tirelessly and brilliantly. Our virology department now has more testing facilities, with many upgrades having been done to handle the increased load of samples,” adds Prof Ram.
As for many doctors fearing that the third wave will infect children, Prof Ram said that while more children were infected in the second wave, their numbers were not high.
“The presumption is also based on the fact that children are not vaccinated and have not been infected, and thus have immunity. We have a special area for children in the APC, and if there is an overflow, which we hope there won’t be, we can also accommodate them in the NHE. The Covid Sero Survey, which we will start soon, will also give us some estimate about the percentage of people infected in this wave,” sums up Prof. Ram.
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