Kolkata: The Covid-19 recovery rate in West Bengal has gone downhill since the last two weeks, while the rate of infection has been increasing — and all these when the city is facing an acute shortage of beds in both government and private hospitals.
In the last two weeks, from 30 June to 14 July, Bengal’s discharge/recovery rate has fallen from 66.48 per cent to 60 per cent. In Kolkata, it has nosedived from 64 per cent to 56 per cent, according to state government data.
The infection rate in the state, meanwhile, has spiked from 3 per cent to 5.14 per cent in the same period.
But health officials and doctors are unable to explain the reason behind the fall in the recovery rate, which has now become worrying.
“We have formed an expert committee on the treatment protocol. They are visiting hospitals on a regular basis and issuing guidelines. If we cannot improve discharge rate, then retention of Covid-19 beds will also be longer, affecting our hospital space. We are working on this,” said a senior state health department official.
The expert committee on Covid-19 treatment protocol has, however, found “anomalies” in the treatment of coronavirus patients in hospitals, which, sources said, have led to a rise in the deaths of patients, who did not have comorbidities.
According to the state government’s Covid-19 bulletin issued Tuesday, at least 184 people, who never had any comorbid conditions, died of Covid, while 795 others, who died of the virus, were learnt to have comorbidities.
According to health ministry data as of Wednesday evening, Bengal had 32,838 total confirmed cases and 980 deaths.
Meanwhile, the state government has stagnated testing of Covid-19 samples. Since 2 July, 10,000-11,000 samples are being tested everyday and the number is not rising any further.
Anomalies in treatment: Expert committee
The expert committee, which was formed in April to monitor the coronavirus treatment protocol, visited some Covid-19 hospitals recently and noted certain “anomalies, which needed urgent rectification”, according to the committee’s official document seen by ThePrint.
The document, however, didn’t explain what these “anomalies” were.
The committee also listed nine suggestions and guidelines to improve the recovery rates of patients. The guidelines included use of medicines, their dosages, use of oxygen, among others.
Dr Abhijit Choudhury, a member of the expert committee, told The Print: “We are issuing guidelines and making policies to improve the patient outcome (discharge/recovery rate). About the drop in recovery rate, we need to talk to the treating doctors.”
A senior doctor at the Calcutta Medical College and hospital, however, said they have been only receiving Covid-19 patients with severe comorbidities. The state-run hospital is a Covid facility.
“We are getting patients with very severe comorbidity issues. Many of them are in advanced stages of cancer and other serious diseases. We could not save them. This is surely a reason for getting a low discharge rate and high mortality rate. Many of them are taking more than two weeks to recover,” he added.
Bed shortage in govt & private hospitals in Kolkata
According to the state government’s Tuesday bulletin, Kolkata has 4,113 active cases.
But, the city has only 3,819 Covid-19 beds across private and government hospitals, and of those, only around 750 are vacant, according to analysis of government data.
Kolkata has a total of seven state-run Covid-19 hospitals with 2,062 Covid beds. Of these, only 551 were unoccupied until 14 July, according to the data.
Major hospitals like Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, KPC Medical College, Beleghata ID hospital — all Covid facilities — are running full.
Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, which is the government’s tertiary-level Covid hospital, has all its 500 beds full. At MR Bangur Hospital, 340 beds out of the 551 are vacant so far.
In the 36 private hospitals in and around Kolkata that have Covid treatment facilities, only around 200 beds are vacant, the data showed. These 36 hospitals have a total of 1,757 Covid beds.
Patients dying due to lack of beds
There have been at least two instances reported in the last few days in which Covid-19 patients were denied beds.
An 18-year-old student died last week after three hospitals allegedly refused to admit him. The student was Covid-positive and diabetic. His parents had to carry him from one hospital to another, and he was finally admitted in Calcutta Medical College after his mother threatened to commit suicide. The matter is now being heard by the Calcutta High Court.
In another case, a senior West Bengal civil services officer, Debdutta Roy, died of Covid-19 Monday. Dutta (27) was the deputy magistrate of Chandannagar in Hooghly district and was assigned to handle the return of migrant labourers in the state.
Roy tested positive 10 days ago and was in home-isolation. On Sunday night, she suddenly developed acute respiratory troubles.
A source in the district administration told ThePrint Roy was taken to Sramajibi Hospital in Howrah due to shortage of beds in Kolkata hospitals.