There has been a rapid decline in the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Mumbai - once the country's largest hotspot. Data shows that over the last few weeks, Maharashtra's capital city has been reporting less than 500 cases and no more than 10 deaths in a day.
But the relief of finally getting a handle on the pandemic has been short lived as the city's civic body-run hospitals have seen the non-Covid patient load rise by "almost 80 per cent". The situation, which brought back memories of patients hunting for beds and under-pressure doctors, has led to doctors demanding that vacancies of medical staff should be filled.
"Our work load has doubled. We are working 24 hours a day. There are just five doctors for every 200 patients in hospitals while the (Jumbo) Covid facilities have 40 doctors for six patients," resident doctors of King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital told NDTV.
The patients are also suffering. "There are no beds or staff. What do we do? Where do we go?" said a non-Covid patient's attendant at KEM which comes under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The return of regular patients and the rolling load of Covid patients has accentuated the need for more doctors and nurses - a shortage that forced the civic body to put senior medical students on Covid duty in May last year.
Under pressure, the doctors have held multiple meetings and written letters demand that those deputed at Jumbo Covid centres in Nesco, BKC and Dahisar, where "98 per cent beds are empty", should be brought back.
"We have a total of 2,000 beds here and only 63 patients. Every day, an average of two to three new patients are admitted. The load is low," Dr Neelam Andrade, Dean of the Nesco Jumbo Covid centre.
But the jumbo facilities are now being used to administer vaccines, and the medical staff is engaged there. There is also little hope for relief anytime soon since phase 2 will involve inoculating a larger number of people -- 27 crore -- than phase 1 in which 1 crore healthcare and 2 crore frontline workers are being inoculated.
Since January 16, when the inoculation drive started, a total of 47,397 beneficiaries have been vaccinated in Mumbai, and almost 40 lakh nationally.