New Delhi: Diagnosed with dengue, it has just been a few hours since Prasad Kumar was admitted to the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital, but such is the rush for patients wanting to get admitted for the mosquito-borne disease, that he has to share the bed with 30-year-old Amit Kumar, as Delhi faces its worst such outbreak in five years.
In the emergency ward, stretchers are now doubling up as beds, as all beds are already occupied. Some of the beds have two patients on them, while others even have three.
"Everyone wants to get admitted. I'm relieved I've at least got some space, even if I have to share it with another patient," says a woman who has been here for the last three days, getting treated for dengue.
RML hospital has set up two wards with 35 beds each, just to tackle the dengue cases. Of the 800 suspected cases of dengue, over 540 have tested positive.
Bijendra Kumar, who is accompanying his 21 year old relative Yuvraj explains, "We went to four other hospitals before coming here. Private hospitals were even charging Rs 14,000 for platelets."
With 14 deaths reported in the city, panic has only added to the numbers, as more people are keen on getting themselves admitted.
Dr. A K Gadpayle, Medical Superintendent, RML tells NDTV, "This year there is certainly a hike in number of patients. In 2010, there were about 1,500 cases, this year we already have 1,800. But we are not turning anyone away."
For the doctors and paramedical staff, it translates into round the clock duty. Despite a shortage of 236 staff nurses, Head nurse, Harvinder Kaur has been working multiple shifts to handle the crowds.
A city with a capacity of 50,000 beds in hospitals, the spike in dengue cases combined with the panic among citizens has further strained its public health system which is likely to deal with more such cases in the coming weeks.