THE SITUATION is not as encouraging as in Mumbai, but continuous decline in active cases for the last one week has raised hopes that the worst in the second wave might be over in Pune as well. Unlike Mumbai, Pune is still reporting more than 10,000 cases a day, though on Monday, this number dropped below 6,200, the lowest this month.
But during the past one week, active cases in Pune have come down by more than 25,000. It peaked on April 19 when the city reported 1.25 lakh Covid-positive people. On Monday, this figure was just about one lakh, though still the second highest in the country after Bengaluru.
The decline has brought some welcome relief to those managing the rush of Covid-19 patients, though it has made little difference, as yet, to the scramble for hospital beds, oxygen, or even remdesivir.
“It is a good sign that the number of active patients is on the decline in the last eight days. But the demand for medical oxygen has not gone down, since the number of hospitalised patients has not yet started to reduce. We are somehow managing the supply of medical oxygen to meet the demands of civic and government hospitals,” said Yuvraj Deshmukh, executive engineer at the PMC, who is coordinating supplies of oxygen to hospitals.
Many large private hospitals said there was no change in the flow of critical Covid-19 patients. Many of these patients were still struggling to find beds at the hospitals.
“We are refusing at least 10 serious cases for ICU admissions every day. An average patient in the ICU spends at least a week. We cannot shift out people before that to accommodate new ones,” said Dr Jitendra Oswal, deputy medical director at Bharati Hospital, which has 75 ICU and 58 ventilator-equipped beds, all occupied.
The Noble Hospital also said all its 55 ICU beds were occupied. Dr H K Sale, executive director, said the hospital was receiving over 50 calls every day seeking admissions. “We are trying to manage and accommodate, but it is extremely difficult,” he said.
Symbiosis Hospital CEO Dr Vijay Natarajan also said the shortages of beds, oxygen or remdesivir had not reduced in the last one week. “If we can stop progression of moderate disease by giving remdesivir at the correct time to those who need it, several ICU admissions can be prevented,” he said, adding, “the situation will continue to be extremely challenging for the next two to three weeks.”
Administrators at Sancheti Hospital also said the situation continued to be stressful. “We have admitted 40 Covid-19 patients, of which 18 are in the ICU. We were waiting for our supply of remdesivir till yesterday (Sunday), and got only limited vials. Oxygen supply is also a challenge, and we are feeling helpless. I am unsure about tomorrow’s supply,” said Manisha Sanghvi, executive director of Sancheti Healthcare Academy.
The PMC admitted that there was a shortage of remdesivir drug. “We are getting fewer remdesivir injections as compared to the demand. The district administration has been managing the distribution of the drug to hospitals, and they need to ensure that adequate numbers are made available to both government and private hospitals,” said Ganesh Bidkar, leader of the House in the PMC.
Incidentally, before the imposition of lockdown, the state health department had projected that the number of active cases in Pune could go up as high as 1.8 lakh by the first week of May. It also estimated that there would be a shortfall of 2,240 ICU beds and 518 ventilators in the district. District health officials said the lockdown could have helped in keeping active cases much lower than what was being feared.
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