The hospitals in Narayanganj, Gazipur, Kishoreganj and Narsingdi, the four Covid-19 hotspots after Dhaka city, are in the most precarious situation dealing with a surging number of positive cases with the minimum facilities required.
Outside Dhaka, these four districts have the highest number of Covid-19 patients. Yet, they essentially lack an adequate amount of key medical facilities required for treatment.
These districts do not have enough ICU beds, ventilation and isolation beds. Serious patients are sent to Dhaka while the number of tests is also poor. Worse still, the virus tests, in many cases, are performed after patients' death.
According to the Department of Health, the number of infected patients in Dhaka city was 2,717 as of April 27. The second highest number was 699 in Narayanganj, followed by 315 in Gazipur, 191 in Kishoreganj and 142 in Narsingdi.
After Dhaka, these districts combined have also witnessed the highest number of deaths.
According to the latest data from the health directorate, there are 9,438 isolation beds, 341 ICU beds and 102 dialysis beds for coronavirus patients across the country.
Of these, there are 130 isolation beds for coronavirus patients in Narayanganj, 120 in Gazipur, 60 in Narsingdi and 200 in Kishoreganj.
In contrast, there are only six ICU beds in Gazipur, 10 in Narayanganj (only 4 of which are ready) and 10 in Kishoreganj. But Narsingdi is not that much "lucky" to have one.
There is also a crisis in the oxygen supply. Of the hospitals in these four districts, only Shaheed Nazrul Islam Medical College in Kishoreganj, dedicated to Covid-19 patients, has a central oxygen supply system.
Meanwhile, Narsingdi has 60 oxygen cylinders, followed by Narayanganj with 40 and Gazipur with merely five.
The ill-fated Narayanganj
After Dhaka, Narayanganj has seen the most number of deaths from the coronavirus. The list of people waiting for coronavirus tests is growing every day at the district civil surgeon's office and the city corporation.
But samples are not being collected due to a manpower shortage. Only two technologists go home to home to collect samples.
Consequently, most people cannot even give samples for testing. If someone with Covid-19 symptoms wants to be tested, it takes them up to seven days to complete the whole process, from giving samples to getting the report.
As a result, starting isolation and treatment of the infected person is belated. Many even die without treatment. So far, many in Narayanganj have tested positive after their deaths!
The Khanpur 300-Bed Hospital dedicated to coronavirus has only 10 doctors, including a consultant.
Doctors there have to go to quarantine every 14 days after treating coronavirus patients. But there are so few health workers in this hospital that it will be difficult to continue the treatment if they are sent to quarantine as per the rules.
As Narayanganj has no coronavirus testing lab as yet, samples are sent to Dhaka, causing a delay in obtaining the reports. Four days have elapsed since the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) received 500 samples from
Narayanganj this week, but the results are yet to be got.
Already, quite a good number of garment factories have been opened in Narayanganj. Sources say most of them are not following the social distancing rules; nor do they have any hand washing facilities for workers.
This will further deteriorate the coronavirus situation in Narayanganj, experts fear.