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UP struggles: ‘Made several calls, could not get bed for wife’

In the last six days, the number of active cases increased by 74,072, but the state could add just 8,521 additional patients in the hospitals.

Written by Asad Rehman , Avaneesh Mishra | Lucknow |
Updated: April 26, 2021 8:41:46 am
People queue up outside an oxygen refill plant in Kanpur on Sunday. (PTI)

As Covid-19 cases continued to surge in Uttar Pradesh — the second worst-affected state with over 2.97 lakh active cases — people are grappling for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and medicines with the health infrastructure in the state stretched to its limit.

For the last four days, Anil Bajpai has been trying to get his 53-year-old wife Rashmi, a Covid patient, admitted to a hospital in Kanpur.

“I have made several calls – to officials, to hospitals, to helpline numbers, friends, everyone, but have not been able to get a bed for my wife. Her oxygen level has dropped below 60 since Sunday morning,” Anil said over the phone on Sunday evening.

“Everywhere I call, they say there is no bed available,” he added.

A 34-year-old police constable, posted in Kanpur city, said that he has not received any

help from the district administration, and had to resort to treating himself at home with teleconsultation from a doctor. “I could not inform my seniors because I did not get a Covid positive report, but I have been symptoms for the last four days. Since Saturday, my oxygen levels started falling. After realising that I could not get help from the administration and hospitals, I spoke to a doctor friend who has been guiding me on treatment. I could not get a bed anywhere but managed to purchase an oxygen concentrator through a relative from Lucknow. The concentrator cost me Rs 1 lakh,” said the constable, who wished to remain anonymous.

On Sunday, Kanpur reported 2,153 new Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths, taking the active cases to 16,916, as per the state Health Department bulletin. The district has so far reported 1,062 deaths, the second-highest in the state after Lucknow.

A senior district health official said that while 26 hospitals are treating Covid patients in Kanpur, “not one bed is available at the moment”. “I am getting many calls, but I can’t do anything. I am telling people to call me back later and check again,” said the official.

On Sunday, a video purportedly of UHM Hospital’s emergency ward went viral, showing chaos and helpless doctors.

Both Kanpur District Magistrate Alok Tiwari and Chief Medical Officer Dr Anil Mishra were unavailable for comment. Their subordinates refused to comment on the shortage of beds and medical oxygen in the district.

In Varanasi, which reported 2,057 fresh cases and 15 deaths in the last 24 hours, the situation was no different.

Shubham Singh (28), a resident of Varanasi, said his father Hira Lal Singh (60) has to be put on a ventilator. “He is currently being treated at Ford Hospital here. But now, the doctors here said that he needs to be shifted to a Level-3 hospital (with ventilator support). We called several such hospitals, but no bed is available at any of the places. We are still trying,” Shubham said.

Binish Narayan also faced a similar problem. His father requires ventilator support.

“He is 59. His oxygen levels are very low. We have tried so many hospitals, but nowhere a ventilator is available. Now, we are trying to get admitted to BHU hospital,” said Binish on Sunday evening.

Even though the state government is increasing the number of beds, either by pushing the hospitals to their limits or by taking the help of the government organisations like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the demand is surpassing the availability.

Against a daily increase of around 10,000 to 18,000 active cases, most of the beds in L-2 (with oxygen supply) and L-3 (with ventilator support) hospitals in the state, mainly in the worst-hit districts are already occupied.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath confirmed that the state has around 25,000 beds in 120 L-2 hospitals and around 25,700 beds in 222 L-3 hospitals – a total of roughly 51,000 beds.

As per the Sunday’s Health Department bulletin, 55,305 or 19 per cent of the total 2.97 lakh active patients are admitted to the hospitals – both government and private.

This suggests that amid the present crisis, almost all the L-2 and L-3 beds in the state are occupied.

In the last six days, the number of active cases increased by 74,072, but the state could add just 8,521 additional patients in the hospitals.

“It is a strange situation. It is like we have prepared food for five people but those in need of it are much more. We are increasing our resources daily, but the number of people who need those resources is increasing at a much higher rate,” said a senior health official.

It is not just beds, oxygen cylinders and medicines are in short supply too.

Deepti Ahuja, a social worker in Lucknow, said that an oxygen cylinder supplier asked for Rs 70,000 for one cylinder.

Similar, another supplier asked her to pay Rs 40,000 for two Remdesivir vials.

A person in Kanpur claimed that Remdesivir is being sold at Rs 17,000 per vial. “People are buying because they don’t have any other option at this point,” a Kanpur resident said.

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