With India in the grip of the second wave of the pandemic, cases in Bhopal have once again risen to over 500 per day in the last week, while the total death toll in the city surpassed 650. On Monday Hamidia Hospital, the government’s primary coronavirus treatment facility in the city, ran out of beds in its Covid-19 ward. After a visit from state officials, it was agreed that a further 60 beds would be added to the ward’s existing capacity. There are currently 210 beds with oxygen support in Hamidia’s Covid ward, all of which are occupied.
Concerns also continue after accusations of negligence were made over treatment of Covid patients at JP Hospital, another government facility, last week. The families of two patients who died in JP Hospital’s ICU last Wednesday allege that their deaths were due to disruptions in the oxygen supply. The two patients were both in critical condition when they were admitted to the ICU. One of the two, a woman suffering from diabetes and a lung infection, had been referred to Hamidia Hospital earlier in the week, but due to the bed shortage at Hamidia the transfer never took place and she died while still in the ICU at JP Hospital. In a statement on Saturday, authorities and hospital staff denied there was any disruption in the oxygen supply and insisted that the hospital has adequate stock to supply all 60 beds in its ICU.
With cases in India surpassing 100,000 per day for the first time on Monday, the country appears to be struggling to meet the strain on its hospitals and medical staff. Indian vaccination suppliers are also reporting stress on the production and distribution of supplies in the country. So far roughly 85 million people have been vaccinated, with the programme recently extended to all those over the age of 45 or identified as vulnerable. However, they are still short of the stock necessary to vaccinate every citizen and are reporting there will be a limited supply available until July.
While the infection rates in India remain high, Bhopal’s vulnerable gas-affected population remains reliant upon the city’s government hospitals for treatment. While our own health workers and community volunteers continue their Community Shield Campaign to shield survivors from Covid-19, the Sambhavna and Chingari clinics lack the necessary facilities to treat those in a serious condition. With many suffering from existing respiratory conditions, it is absolutely essential that beds, oxygen and other medical equipment are available to them at government facilities and that those who are referred there for treatment are receiving appropriate care.