However, BMC’s additional commissioner Suresh Kakani said that the situation is “under control” in the city because the municipal body is adding both normal and ICU beds every day to its Covid care facilities.
On the morning of April 2, the BMC’s dashboard showed 262 of the then total 1,638 ICU beds (15%) were vacant. Within 24 hours, the numbers changed: only 168 ICU beds of the bolstered ICU bed strength of 1,800 were available.
The second Covid wave, which has been resulting in a record number of daily detections in Mumbai, has hit the affluent classes in the city as against the first wave in May and September 2020 that affected the slum pockets in a big way.
However, the civic dashboard shows that more ICU beds in the private sector than the public sector are vacant. Only 8.5% (87 out of 1,027) ICU beds in public hospitals are vacant, as against 10.5% (81 out of 773) in the private sector.
More than half of these ICU beds have ventilators, and as per BMC statistics, only 8.3% (94) of the 1,131 ventilators in Covid care are available right now.
Kakani said the BMC is alert, but not too alarmed. “The quick rise in cases is worrying, but we are ramping up the bed strength on a daily basis. It is work in progress,” he said. There are plans to increase the total bed strength to 21,000 from the 14,769 right now. “The private sector will increase the beds from 3,900 to 5,000 next week,” he added.
There is another alarming aspect to Mumbai’s ‘Covid bed story’. While most of the affluent patients opt for home care, a percentage of them turn serious in the second week and reach hospital late. “We are getting many patients who, on the seventh or eighth day of infection, have a bad CT scan score and need ICU care,” said Dr Prince Surana of the Surana group of hospitals.
A senior BMC official told TOI that several affluent patients call in with demands to be admitted in a particular hospital only.
“Some want only a sea-facing room, while others say that they want a particular hospital only. In the current situation, when beds are getting fewer in number by the day, these conditions cannot be fulfilled,” he said. Patients are also ready to wait for a day or more to get into the hospital of their choice. “But in the meanwhile their condition deteriorates,” said the official.