As Cases Rise In Bhopal, Fewer Than 200 Beds Free At Covid Hospitals In City

The number of confirmed cases in Bhopal has shot up from 2,830 on July 1 to 5,314 on July 26 - an increase of nearly 88 per cent

Bhopal has over 5,000 active COVID-19 cases (File)

Bhopal:

On Sunday, a day after he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and was admitted to Chirayu Hospital in state capital Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addressed the state from his bed and met with his ministers via video link.

However, neither the Chief Minister nor his cabinet addressed a growing crisis for less privileged coronavirus patients - a shortage of beds in hospitals and COVID-19 care facilities in the city.

The number of confirmed cases in Bhopal has shot up from 2,830 on July 1 to 5,314 on July 26 - an increase of nearly 88 per cent.

The spike in cases means there are barely any empty beds in hospitals and medical facilities in the city.

According to the latest health bulletin, there are 1,675 active cases against an approximate 1,800 beds in government and private hospitals, leaving a worryingly small margin should large numbers of new COVID-19 cases continue to be recorded.

Of these 1,800 beds, 1,300 are in COVID-dedicated hospitals and the rest are spread across three CCCs (Covid Care Centres), where asymptomatic patients are admitted.

The beds in hospitals are fast running out; only 132 were free as of Monday night. Of these, more than half (70 beds) are in Chirayu Hospital, a private institution where the Chief Minister is admitted.

There are only three COVID-19-dedicated hospitals in the city, including Chirayu, which has a total of 750 beds. The other two are the state-run Hamidia Hospital, which has only 20 of 220 beds free, and AIIMS, where 102 of 330 beds are free.

The rest are asymptomatic patients sent to one of the three CCCs.

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The government has claimed the city has all the facilities needed to deal with the outbreak. Chief Minister Chouhan also said arrangements were being made to increase the number of beds.

"We have got instructions from the Chief Minister. We will get this done by August 31. In Bhopal we have Chirayu, Hamidia and AIIMS. Bansal Hospital is also being prepared to treat Covid patients," Vishwas Sarang, the medical education minister, said, adding, "There won't be any issues".

However, the opposition has said the provisions are insufficient.

"The beds in Bhopal are almost full, patients being admitted daily clearly outnumbered patients who are discharged. I believe the coronavirus crisis is an example of the BJP's lust for power." Jitu Patwari, a Congress leader and former education minister, said.

"The Chief Minister will be treated but others will die because of the crumbling health infrastructure," he alleged.

The state health department, in the first week of July, submitted a report that said Bhopal needed 3,082 beds by August 31; at that time there were 1,393 beds.

The number of patients has shot up over the past week but the number of hospital beds has not increased.