The pioneer Covid-19 medical facility Kurmitola General Hospital had 341 patients admitted Thursday against its 275-bed capacity, while none of its ten intensive care units (ICU) was vacant.
In fact, 91% beds of the Covid dedicated government facilities were occupied as hospital admission with the virus infection has risen by 51% in just two weeks.
According to the health directorate, there are 3,215 beds in both private and public hospitals designated for coronavirus patients in the capital, and 1,809 of them were occupied on Thursday. The hospitals had 80 ICUs left – only 29 in government hospitals.
The Kurmitola and Mugda General Hospital – two major medical facilities for Covid patients in Dhaka – did not have any ICU bed left.
The country has a total of 19 Covid dedicated hospitals – ten public and nine private. On 5 March, 1,097 patients were admitted in those facilities.
Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital Director Dr Khalilur Rahman said their Covid ward had 56 patients Thursday.
"But, only 30-32 patients were admitted at the hospital even two weeks ago. If the surge in hospital admission continues, all of our 100 beds will be filled soon."
If the admission surpasses the capacity, Dr Khalilur said they will have to add the general wards to the Covid dedicated unit.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Director Brigadier General Dr Zulfiquer Ahmed Amin also said that they would have to admit coronavirus patients to general units if the admission exceeds their capacity.
"Already we are facing a patient rush. Most of the beds are full while those used to remain empty in the last two months," he told The Business Standard.
The physician said the medical university had no ICU available as he had been receiving more and more phone calls for ICU.
Back to September-like virus situation?
The daily count of patients admitted at Covid dedicated hospitals is hovering around 1,800 in the last couple of days. The current hospital occupancy rate is similar to September last year.
Many hospitals shuttered their Covid units as the admission rate plummeted.
But, all the major Covid-19 indicators – new cases, mortality and daily infection rate – have been spiralling since the beginning of this month.
The country recorded 2,187 cases Thursday – the highest single day count in the past 100 days. The number of Covid-19 cases stood at 5,64,939 in the country until Thursday.
Senjuti Saha, the scientist who successfully completed the genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Bangladesh, said it seems we are back in March 2020. "But no, it is actually worse than that. The number of infections this March is rather high, but our steps to tackle the virus are much less," she wrote on her facebook wall.
Surge in cases may hamper test, inoculation
Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital Director Dr Khalilur said they have a severe crisis of third-class staff, and a surge in virus cases would intensify it.
"The Covid ward staffers will have to be in a 14-day quarantine. Then the crisis will affect the general ward, covid-19 test and ongoing vaccination campaign."
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Director Dr Zulfiquer Ahmed Amin also said the resurgence in virus cases has put them in a tight spot.
"We have been handling non-covid patients, vaccination and virus tests with limited manpower. Now if the number of patients increases, it will get worse," he added.
Infection rise hints at more deaths in upcoming days
Bangladesh on Thursday saw a steep rise in Covid-19 infection rate as the country recorded 10.45% infection in 24 hours – the highest in the last 94 days. The health directorate reported 16 deaths in the past 24 hours until Thursday morning, spiking the total to 8,624.
Abu Jamil Faisal, a public health expert and also a member of the Public Health Advisory Committee of Covid-19 told TBS that the infection uptrend would push up the death tally in upcoming days.
The public health advocated limiting movement of the people as the infection is taking a deadly turn.
"People are touring the tourist spots; this has to stop. The health ministry alone cannot curb the infections. All the ministries need to respond now."
He suggested bringing more people under the immunisation coverage to reduce infection and death.
Meantime, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the government would decide whether the country would be put in a fresh lockdown.
Zahid Maleque said we want the country's economy to be healthy, and the infection rate to come down at the same time.
"Lockdown will not be required if the virus safety measures are followed," he noted.
The health minister said the virus situation is still under control. But if it deteriorates, no one will be safe.
"The virus has not yet left the country. It is not the time you go on vacation with the family. Be a little more patient. People will be able to tour if they survive the pandemic," he added.