KOLKATA: A steady trickle of Covid patients over the last one week, which has gained momentum in the wake of a spurt in transmission in some other states, has made private hospitals in Kolkata chalk out plans for a re-extension of its Covid units that had been drastically shrunk last December.
At least two hospitals have started making provisions for an emergency expansion in case the existing flow of patients persists over the next few days.
AMRI Hospitals, which now has a 50-bed Covid unit at Dhakuria, has kept arrangements ready to scale up the number of beds to 150 across its three units, including Salt Lake and Mukundapur.
These two units had scrapped Covid wards in January. Four Covid patients have been admitted to AMRI since Friday, taking the total number to 18 – the highest in more than a month.
“Even though not alarming, the current trend is worrying. So, we are prepared to reconvert some of the former Covid units if the numbers rise further. Our teams of doctors and support staff are ready for a spurt and we are better prepared for an emergency this time, having endured the pandemic situation for a year,” said AMRI CEO Rupak Barua.
Peerless Hospital, which had 150 Covid beds till December, now has a 48-bed unit. Since last week, the number of patients has gone up from four to 22. Covid tests, too, have doubled over the last 10 days to touch 300.
“We have seen 3-4 admissions a day since Thursday. This is significant and if the current rate of admission continues, we may have to re-convert some non-Covid beds. We are ready to do that since the Covid set-up has not been dismantled but merely set aside,” said Peerless CEO Sudipta Mitra.
It is eerie, said Mitra, that the hospital had the same number of Covid beds and patients in April last year.
“It suddenly exploded from there on till things came under control in December. Unfortunately, the numbers are rising again and political gatherings are contributing to it,” said Mitra.
Charnock Hospital, which had to shut down in April last year after several of its healthworkers contracted Covid, is keeping a contingency plan ready to ramp up Covid beds. It now has just 10 beds and seven patients.
“So far, we haven’t seen a spurt in number but it seems imminent,” said Charnock managing director Prashant Sharma.
At RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS), the number of Covid patients has gone up marginally from 10 last week to 15 now. The hospital, which had 130 Covid beds till December, now has 40.
“Since the number has not yet gone up significantly and the number of Covid beds still being adequate, there are no immediate plans to enhance capacity. But we are keeping a watch on the situation,” said Narayana Health zonal head R Venkatesh.
Newly admitted Covid patients, though, have milder symptoms and the majority are being treated outside ICUs. “Just five of our Covid patients are at the ICU now and none is critical,” said Barua.
At Peerless, too, most cases are mild so far. “The intensity of the virus seems to have ebbed,” he said.