Many patients are returning without treatment from Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) dedicated Covid-19 hospital as the facility has yet to start full-scale operation for lack of adequate manpower.
Md Nahid, son of a patient, told The Business Standard that his father was experiencing severe breathing problems after contracting the virus.
"I waited for an hour to admit my father to the hospital but now I have to search somewhere else as doctors told me to go to another hospital," he added.
Currently, the hospital has 100 doctors, 140 nurses, and 300 staff members, including 100 army, navy, and air force officials. It has sought an additional 400 doctors and 700 nurses to ensure proper services to patients.
During a visit to the hospital on Friday, ambulances were found in queues waiting to release patients. The attendants of the patients were lobbying nurses and administrative officials for admission as they consider the hospital to be a reliable one.
"I think this hospital is reliable as it is run by the army. It is also very well-equipped with ICU and HDU beds. So, I tried to admit my father to it. But doctors said he has a mild infection and the hospital only admits critical patients," said a patient attendant.
The hospital has treated about 500 patients since its operation started on Monday.
A total of 12% of the patients admitted to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) dedicated Covid-19 hospital have died within five days after the facility began its operation.
According to the DNCC hospital sources, 201 patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and high dependency unit (HDU) of the hospital.
Of them, 25 died till Friday afternoon. Of the remaining 176, 98 are in the ICU and 78 in the HDU.
Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin, director of the hospital, told The Business Standard the hospital admits only critical patients and the less severe ones are referred to other hospitals after providing primary treatment.
He also said doctors, nurses, and other staff members have been working relentlessly to serve patients.
However, due to a manpower crisis, the hospital cannot operate on a full scale. So, many critical patients had to go back without getting admission, he added.
Nasir said, "Some 100 ICUs out of 212 are prepared at the moment. We cannot operate other ICUs due to the shortage of manpower."
"We have sought more doctors and nurses from the health ministry. Some doctors and nurses are on the way as they are coming from different hospitals across the country. I hope we can fully operate within three or four days," he added.
The hospital, which is the country's largest Covid-19 hospital, is set up in a six-storey building in the capital's Mohakhali area. It is expected to be fully prepared by 29 April with 1,000 beds, including 212 ICU and 250 HDU ones. Additionally, as many as 438 isolation rooms will accommodate Covid-19 patients at the facility.
Sources at the health ministry said doctors, health workers, and administration officials at the hospital would be appointed by the armed forces and the Directorate General of Health Services.
The Dhaka North City Corporation provided the building to set up the hospital while the armed forces will look after administrative, managerial, and security issues with the assistance of the health ministry.
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.
So far, the total number of infected people in the country is 739,703. Of them, 10,869 have died, meaning 1.47% of the infected persons died since March 2020 when the virus broke out in Bangladesh.