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30 March, 2020 01:29:44 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 30 March, 2020 02:40:33 PM

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Dearth of ICUs poses major challenge

FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka
Dearth of ICUs poses major challenge

There are only 29 ICU beds set up so far at five different hospitals in Dhaka to combat COVID-19 pandemic, sources from the Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) said. There are 10 such beds at Bangladesh Kuwait Friendship Hospital, eight at Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Hospital, three at Uttara Regent Hospital, three at Mirpur Regent Hospital, and five at Sajeda Foundation Hospital.

There are no ICU beds at any hospital outside Dhaka.

Experts say that elderly people infected by the coronavirus need ICU support the most. There are more than 80 lakh elderly persons in the country.

Speaking with The Independent, former DGHS director Dr ANM Nuruzzaman said: “Our country has only 0.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people. It's 3.2 for Italy, 4.3 in China, and 12.3 in South Korea—all of which have struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic,” he noted.

“More importantly, there are only a few intensive care beds and ventilators available in Bangladeshi hospitals,” he added.

According to the DGHS, the country has no more than 1,285 ICU beds available in over 500 hospitals across the country.

However, all the available ICU beds cannot be used for treating coronavirus patients as keeping an infected patient in such beds will put other patients at risk of infection. Recently, the ICU units in Delta Hospital and Anwar Khan Modern Hospital in Dhaka were closed down following the deaths of suspected coronavirus patients.

“Hospitals in Bangladesh are becoming scared of treating COVID-19 patients. You have seen what happened at Delta Hospital and Anwar Khan Modern Hospital. The ICU units in those two hospitals were not prepared to treat COVID-19 patients. So, they were forced to shut down their ICU units and send their doctors into quarantine,” said Nuruzzaman.

He also said the incidents have depicted a grim scenario. “Imagine a scenario where there

are sudden surges in the number of COVID-19 patients across the country! It will lead to a catastrophe,” he added.

Dr Mahadi Abdur Rauf, a doctor at Northern Hospital, explained that hospitals cannot survive financially by keeping beds open and equipment idle. “No hospital is prepared for what we are witnessing right now. None of them can prepare for a pandemic all of a sudden,” he said. He also said that the coronavirus attacks people’s lungs and in some cases impedes their ability to breathe as they develop pneumonia. “Ventilators, which deliver air to the lungs through a tube placed in the windpipe, are crucial to keep these patients alive,” he added.

Rauf said that most ventilators at Northern Hospital are currently being used for patients with other illnesses. “The problem is that ICUs that house coronavirus-infected people need to be completely ‘isolated’ so that the virus cannot infect others during treatment,” he added. “Usually, 60–70 per cent of our six ICU beds are occupied. But we don’t know what will happen in the next one month. We don’t know whether we will need to accommodate patients with COVID-19 symptoms in our hospital in case of a surge in the number of coronavirus patients.”Dr Sadrul Amin, a director of Ibn Sina Hospital, told The Independent that a greater proportion of people with COVID-19 infections are being seriously ill all over the world.

“According to some estimates, 10 to 20 per cent of those who are infected may require hospitalisation. If enough people become infected, the numbers of those who may need significant care will easily overwhelm our capacity to provide it,” said Amin.

He said an unchecked pandemic will lead to an ever-quickening rate of infection. “If, however, we engage in social distancing, proper quarantining, and proper hygiene, we can slow the rate of spread and make sure there are enough resources to properly care for everyone,” he added.

He said that the 15-bed ICU unit of Ibn Sina Hospital could be prepared to treat COVID-19 patients if the government requires it.

“Preparing hospitals for the treatment of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19 is not an easy task. Our doctors need to have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat patients with COVID-19 symptoms. We are urging the government to ensure PPEs for doctors and nurses,” he said.


IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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