Mumbai: With a sharp surge in Covid cases and related hospital admissions in Mumbai, the city’s civic body is adding more beds, streamlining the process of allotting hospital beds, and ramping up tests, assuming the worst is yet to come.
The number of vacant beds is fast shrinking, and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has prohibited all hospitals from directly allotting Covid beds to patients to prevent any possible artificial scarcity. All bed allotments will be done by the 24 ‘war rooms’ that the civic body had already set up in each of its administrative wards.
“No bed will be allotted directly to anyone by hospitals. All allotment of hospital beds shall be through the 24 ward war rooms only and, therefore, no one should try to procure positive Covid report directly from testing labs. Otherwise they will find it difficult to get beds anywhere,” BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal told reporters.
While the rule was already in place, Chahal said hospitals were directly admitting patients without informing the ‘war room’ concerned.
Mumbai has been seeing a sharp rise in the number of cases, adding over 5,000 patients to its Covid-positive tally every day for the past six days. On Saturday and Sunday, this number crossed 6,000, while Monday, it came in at 5,888. Till over a month ago, this number was hovering around 500. Chahal said the BMC is preparing for the number of cases to touch 10,000 a day.
Overall, the metropolis has recorded 4,04,562 Covid cases, of which 47,453 are active.
Extra Covid beds, increased testing
As of 28 March, 3,217 of the 13,006 Covid beds in the city were vacant, whereas just three days before, the number was around 5,000, according to information from the BMC.
In a statement Thursday, the civic body had said it plans to increase its Covid bed capacity to 21,000 in the next two weeks by operationalising the pool that it had created last year in various hospitals of Mumbai. Chahal added Monday that the BMC is making 2,269 private hospital Covid beds, including 360 ICU beds, available immediately.
“This will be in addition to more than 3,000 beds currently vacant in Mumbai for Covid patients, including currently vacant 450 beds in private hospitals. We are also operationalising additional 1,500 beds in field hospitals this week to take vacant beds to approximately 7,000 by this weekend,” Chahal said.
In a circular dated 29 March, the BMC published guidelines that all hospitals, public and private, should follow with respect to Covid beds.
Private hospitals will reserve 80 per cent of their beds and 100 per cent of their ventilator-equipped beds for Covid patients to be allotted by the war room, the guidelines mandated.
The circular stated that the assistant commissioner of every ward will take over beds in nursing homes and local hospitals. The BMC has directed its war rooms to first exhaust beds in local hospitals, moving up to private hospitals, state government hospitals and then civic body hospitals.
The guidelines also say beds can be booked on priority only on the reference of Mahesh Narvekar, director of disaster management, or Gautam Bhansali, chief coordinator for private hospitals.
No hospital Covid beds will be allotted to asymptomatic patients without comorbidities.
Meanwhile, the BMC is trying to rapidly ramp up testing by making visitors at crowded places such as malls, railway stations, bus depots and so on undergo Rapid Antigen Tests.
The civic body has increased the number of tests per day to over 40,000 from about 25,000 a week ago.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)