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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Centre flags gaps in critical care infra; shortages worst in UP, Bihar, Assam

According to a presentation made at a meeting, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam had the largest numbers of districts with grave shortages of all these three kinds of equipment.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi | Updated: April 27, 2020 2:48:32 pm
Centre flags gaps in critical care infra; shortages worst in UP, Bihar, Assam The Centre on Sunday presented to states a detailed account of the infirmities in India’s COVID-fighting infrastructure, including specifically, the shortage of isolation beds, ventilators, and ICU beds. (Representational Image)

The Centre on Sunday presented to states a detailed account of the infirmities in India’s COVID-fighting infrastructure, including specifically, the shortage of isolation beds, ventilators, and ICU beds.

According to a presentation made at the meeting, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Assam had the largest numbers of districts with grave shortages of all these three kinds of equipment. The presentation was based on data up to April 23.

The meeting, which was chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, was attended by the health secretaries of the states.

According to data presented at the meeting, 183 districts across the country have fewer than 100 isolation beds — and 67 of these districts have seen cases of coronavirus infection. As many as 53 (out of 75) districts in UP have fewer than 100 isolation beds, the data show — and 31 of these districts have reported cases.

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Bihar is number 2 on the infirmity list with 20 (out of a total 38) districts having fewer than 100 isolation beds; 9 of these districts have reported infections so far. In Assam, which is third on the list, these numbers are 19 (out of 33) and 6 respectively.

The presentation also recorded the worst performing districts in these states. In UP, the three worst performing districts are Saharanpur, Firozabad and Rae Bareli.

Underscoring the “urgent need to build ICU capacity”, the presentation said 143 districts in India have no ICU beds; 47 of these have seen coronavirus cases. Here too, the state with the highest number is UP, with 34 districts with zero ICU beds, of which 19 have seen infections.

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Madhya Pradesh is second in this list, with 31 districts that have zero ICU beds; 11 of these districts have seen COVID-19 cases. Bihar is third, with numbers of 29 and 10 respectively.

A total 123 districts nationwide have zero ventilator beds; 39 of these districts have seen cases. UP has 35 of these districts — and 20 of them have reported cases. Bihar and Assam have 28 and 17 such districts respectively; and 10 and 3 of them respectively have seen cases.

The presentation also flagged the possibility of infrastructure shortage based on projections for May 3. For instance, it suggested that Mumbai could see a shortage of isolation beds with oxygen by May 2, with 9,632 cases projected by that date.

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It recorded 10 districts across the country with the highest bed capacity utilisation, according to available data. Firozabad in UP has 30 beds but 62 active cases; Surat has 253 beds and 440 active cases. Mumbai is recorded as having a total 2,260 beds, and 3,615 cases. Of these 10 districts, four are in UP, and two in Gujarat.

The Cabinet Secretary’s presentation seemed critical of the data provided by states — it asked whether there was overutilisation of beds, where patients were housed, and whether administrations were “actually aware of what is happening in the field”, and remarked that “with managing COVID-19 as the only task, it is strange if we cannot do even basic data entry”.

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