The health ministry has sent letters to all divisional directors (health), deputy commissioners, district civil surgeons and upazila nirbahi officers across the country to take necessary steps to prevent Covid-19 patients from coming to Dhaka for treatment.
The letters also called for running a massive campaign at district and upazila levels in this regard.
An official at the hospital wing of the Directorate General of Health Services told The Business Standard that the move was taken due to the crisis of general beds and ICUs in Dhaka's Covid hospitals.
He said the number of coronavirus patients is the highest in Dhaka and all of the 22 hospitals dedicated for Covid-19 patients are struggling to provide them treatment.
"In this situation, Covid-19 patients coming to Dhaka from different districts cannot secure admission even after visiting multiple hospitals. Many came to Dhaka to get ICUs but in the end, they are dying in the ambulances. In this context, patients from outside have been asked not to come to Dhaka but to seek treatment at district and upazila levels," he added.
The health ministry in its letter sent to the field-level officials on Thursday said that measures have been taken to ensure quality medical services at the upazila and district levels as the Covid-19 infections have increased significantly. It is necessary to run a massive campaign so that the patients infected with coronavirus do not go to the Dhaka metropolitan hospitals from the upazilas, districts and divisions for treatment.
It also instructed the Covid-19 patients to seek medical services through local government healthcare providers.
Recently, Health Minister Zahid Maleque advised Covid patients not to come to Dhaka. He urged patients from outside the capital to be admitted to local hospitals.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Virologist Professor Nazrul Islam thinks that the decision of the ministry is positive.
He told TBS that since the hospitals in Dhaka are not able to cope with the pressure of extra patients, it is reasonable to discourage patients from coming to Dhaka from the district and upazila levels. However, the decision taken by the prime minister to install ICU beds and ventilators in the district headquarters hospitals has not been implemented yet.
"High flow nozzle cannula needs to be provided by setting up central oxygen lines in hospitals for proper treatment of Covid-19 patients at the district and upazila levels. It will not require ICU beds or ventilators," he added.
As on Sunday, there were 10,364 general beds for Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the country, according to government data. Of these, 3,562 patients are admitted in Dhaka against 4,023 beds, while in Chattogram there are 357 patients against 628 beds.
Outside these two metropolitan cities, there are 5,713 general beds across the country, with 1,585 patients.
On the other hand, there are 530 patients against a total of 672 ICU beds across the country till Sunday. Of these, there are 370 patients against 377 ICU beds in Dhaka, 26 patients against 51 beds in Chattogram, and outside the two cities there are 134 patients against 244 ICUs beds.
Meanwhile, the health ministry in a press release on Sunday said that a total of Tk14.49 crore – Tk3 lakh for each of the 483 upazila health complexes - has been allocated to ensure health services to the grassroots people in the coronavirus situation.
The money will be used for the purchase of equipment and supplies, the diet of patients admitted to coronavirus isolation hospitals, medicines, gauze, bandages and cotton, chemical reagents, oxygen, and other gas supply for the management of Covid-19 patients at the upazila level.