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COVID-19 in Kolkata: Cases continue to rise; healthcare infrastructure stretched out

Abhishek Law July 18 | Updated on July 18, 2020

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Nearly 800 fresh cases being reported on a daily basis from West Bengal’s capital city

The burgeoning COVID-19 cases in Kolkata and its periphery are severely testing the health infrastructure of the State capital.

With nearly 800 fresh cases being reported on a daily basis from Kolkata, and other adjoining urban areas across districts like North 24 Parganas; there is an alarming shrinkage in vacancy at premiere private hospitals treating COVID. Nearly 52 per cent of the scheduled private hospitals have no space.

The government facilities are being stretched too but they are relatively better off.

Worrying facts

The positivity rates (percentage of samples testing positive) are increasing while the recovery rates are falling. West Bengal reported 1894 new cases on Friday, taking the total active cases to 14,709. Total confirmed cases in the state stands at 38011.

The positivity rate has increased to 5.62 per cent on July 17; up from 3.85 per cent as in the beginning of this month (July 1).

With 26 deaths being reported on Friday, the death toll stood at 1049. Recovery rates from 65.35 per cent in the beginning of this month to 58.54 per cent on Friday.

Kolkata continued to be worst hit with 563 new infections taking total active cases in the city to 4772. This was followed by North 24 Parganas with 463 new infections and 3481 active cases. The state capital’s discharge rate (total discharged patients / total confirmed cases) stands at 55.7 per cent; while in case of North 24 Parganas this rate stood at 50.77 per cent – both being lower than Bengal’s average.

Kolkata running-out of private hospital beds

The vacancy levels across different private facilities in the city, put together, is only above 11 per cent or 209 vacant beds out of 1858. More than half of the private healthcare providers, or 20 out of 38 hospitals in Kolkata and North 24 Parganas (together dubbed as city proper), have no space.

This 1858 bed count also includes 218 additional satellite facilities that have been added across six hospitals recently; one hospital to treat cancer patients (who have tested COVID-19 positive) and two hospitals where “only COVID suspects” can be put up.

Of the 218 additional beds created through satellite facilities, there are 73 vacancies across four hospitals; while there is no vacancy in the hospital for cancer patients, who tested COVID-19 positive, data released by the State Health Department revealed.

Government hospitals fair better

As on July 17, in Kolkata, the state government has seven hospitals (which include private facilities that it has requisitioned) with 2162 beds. The vacancy across these facilities stand at 23 per cent, or 503 beds are available.

In North 24 Parganas – the most densely populated district in the state and has the second largest COVID case load after Kolkata – has 734 beds across seven hospitals; with a vacancy of around 613, or 83 per cent vacancy.

The vacancy levels in State-run facilities are the highest, as per the data compiled by the State health department.

The vacancy levels in all State-run facilities, across all districts, stand at 65 per cent i.e. 7191 beds out of 11,027 beds are vacant.

The State government is also repurposing stadiums and other assets as isolation and COVID treatment units, both in Kolkata and across districts.

Published on July 18, 2020

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