The country's largest Covid hospital set up at a six-storey building in the capital's Mohakhali will start operation today [Monday], with 60 ICU beds, 50 emergency beds and 150 isolation rooms readied so far.
It is expected to be fully prepared by April 29, with 1,000 beds, including 212 ICU beds and 250 HDU beds. As many as 438 isolation rooms will accommodate Covid patients at the facility.
On the first day of its operation, the Dhaka North City Corporation Dedicated Covid-19 Hospital will have 130 doctors, 350 nurses, 350 general staff and 150 army personnel on duty, said Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin, director of the hospital.
To run at its full capacity at the space of 1,80,560 sq ft, the hospital will require 250 doctors and 500 nurses. Until now, the place has been used only as a Covid isolation centre and a testing lab for outbound passengers.
While inaugurating the hospital on Sunday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said he hoped people would get better healthcare there than in other hospitals in the country.
The authorities prepared the set-up in just 20 days through relentless efforts, he said, adding that the unit had an RT PCR lab, a pathology lab, radiotherapy centers and X-ray facilities.
The recent surge in the number of infected cases has increased the demand for hospital beds dedicated for Covid patients, with central oxygen supply lines.
At present, about 100 hospitals in the country have a central oxygen supply system installed. Work is underway to introduce the system in 34 more hospitals, the minister said.
"These facilities will play a major role in saving the lives of Covid patients."
DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam, Secretary of Health Services Division of the health ministry Lokman Hossain and Director General of Directorate General of Health Services Prof ABM Khurshid Alam were present among others at the inaugural programme.
Brig Gen Nasir Uddin said the hospital authorities were working to fully operate the hospital to support
the increasing number of patients.
Sources at the health ministry said doctors, health workers and administrative officials would be appointed by the armed forces and the Directorate General of Health Services.
The Dhaka North City Corporation has given the building while the armed forces will look after administrative, managerial and security issues with the assistance of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Currently, there are 2,555 general and 128 ICU beds at public hospitals, and 772 general and 180 ICU beds at private hospitals in Dhaka city.
Bangladesh saw a record 102 Covid deaths in 24 hours till 8:00am on Sunday and it was the third consecutive day that the country reported more than a hundred fatalities.
With the latest data, the total death toll reached 10,385 in the country at a 1.44% death rate, according to the health directorate.
As Covid-dedicated hospitals have become overcrowded with patients, people are rushing from one hospital to another to save the lives of their loved ones. General beds and beds at intensive care units are falling short of the need.
Against this backdrop, health experts have hailed the government initiative to set up the new and the largest Covid hospital.
"I believe it will be one of the standard hospitals in the country in terms of Covid treatment and other facilities," said Prof Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and a noted virologist.
Meanwhile, a 2,000-bed Covid makeshift hospital set up at Bashundhara Convention Centre stopped operation months after it was inaugurated on May 17 last year. It had no intensive care unit.