Amid the coronavirus scourge, Mumbai in Maharashtra is grappling with various kinds of emergencies. Along with the rising number of cases, the city is also having to deal with a dearth in hospital beds as many hospitals have been affected due to possible exposure to coronavirus patients. More than 100 medical staffers at the hospital, including doctors, nurses and technicians have been tested coronavirus positive, forcing many city hospitals to declare themselves as ‘containment zone’.
On Friday, another 19 health workers tested positive from hospitals, taking the count of affected medical staff to nearly 100 in Mumbai, likely to be the highest in India. Alarmed by the spread of infection among frontline workers, private hospitals have been asked to urgently provide safety kits, additional remuneration and transport.
At Bhatia Hospital, under containment since Wednesday, 14 staffers, including 10 nurses, two doctors and a physiotherapist, tested positive, leading to it being sealed.
Two nurses tested positive at Dadar’s Shushrusha Hospital. It has been asked to stop new admissions and discharge all patients within 48 hours.
A nurse and a technician from Breach Candy Hospital tested positive for coronavirus, following which the hospital was asked not to admit any new patients on Thursday.
In Mulund’s Spandan Hospital, 65 doctors, nurses and other staff have been sent in quarantine as their test results are awaited. Till now, one nurse has tested positive. The hospital is likely to remain shut till the quarantine period for staff is over and test results are out.
The 250-bed Saifee Hospital, which was among the first to face the Covid-19 scare and closure of OTs and diagnostic units, now will only be admitting coronavirus patients.
The Khar Hinduja Hospital too, is running minimal services after several of their staffers were placed under quarantine.
In addition, a dozen other mid-level and small nursing homes across the city have shut operations after patients accidentally tested positive and their staffers had to be quarantined.
Those nursing home not hit by the infection are also running to half their strength as many staffers haven’t been able to commute.
With major hospitals like Jaslok, Wockhardt and Bhatia shutting operations and Breach Candy running a bare minimum of services, at least 800-900 beds are currently out of circulation in south Mumbai alone.
The development has led to questions about safety protocols followed in the hospitals. A civic official said with the right protocols, some infections can be avoided. “Kasturba Hospital, for instance, has not reported any infections among doctors and staffers,” he said.
A senior management official of a private hospital said, “A few cases of infections in hospitals were expected since we are actively handling coronavirus patients. However, the initial shortage of PPEs and bulk infections in some hospitals has made the situation messy”.
Commenting on the situation, BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said private hospitals are much needed in these times. “Some patients would prefer to go to private hospitals and many of them are doing a good job in handling Covid-19 patients,” he said, adding that in case a hospital gets infected, there are protocols of testing those and disinfecting the premises completely. “After this is done, the hospital can again start functioning,” he said.
A nurse from one of the south Mumbai hospitals said a lot of the blame lies with the hospital management who were caught napping when the cases sprung up. “Despite our pleas, PPEs were reserved for those working in Covid-19 wards. Even those showing symptoms were put on shifts till they were too sick,” said the nurse.
Mumbai’s situation is intriguing when compared with several cities and even states. Recording more than 100 cases daily over the past 2 two days is an indication of the spread peaking. The next five days are going to be crucial for Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, as the coronavirus trajectory during this period will determine whether Mumbai fares better or faces a situation akin to New York.
“Studying global trends and the spread of the disease, so far, in Mumbai, we can say that we may possibly even get 200 to 300 cases per day in the next five-six days. We are geared up for that but expect and hope that the numbers will fall after this six-day period. However, if this peak or surge continues for the next 10 days, then we may see a situation similar to that in Italy or New York,” said a health department official.
As of April 11 (Saturday), Maharashtra had 1,574 positive cases and 110 deaths while the nationwide toll stood at 239. This suggests Maharashtra that has 21.13 per cent of the country’s cases accounts for 46 per cent of the deaths across the nation.