BENGALURU : Thousands of hostels, stadiums, government guest houses and other buildings need to be converted into makeshift hospitals amid a looming threat of community transmission that could see India facing a sudden spike in coronavirus cases.
The next two weeks will be crucial to such an effort, said experts who have given the government the blueprint of an emergency response.
It will be quicker and easier to convert existing infrastructure for use as coronavirus care centres instead of constructing new hospitals, public health experts said. Hotels, certain government and public buildings such as auditoriums and trade centres and government guest houses could also be turned into isolation wards.
“We have thousands of medical college hostels, stadiums and playgrounds. These must be used in this hour of crisis,” said Dr Girdhar J. Gyani, director general of Associated Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI). It’s ideal to convert an existing government hospital into a covid-19 care unit, but if these aren’t available, defence, government hospitals could be considered.
“We cannot afford to wait for a calamity. The next two weeks are crucial for us to ramp up and ready ourselves,” he said. AHPI, which represents a majority of healthcare providers in the country, has submitted a detailed plan of action to the Union health ministry.
In a letter on 28 March, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan told states to ensure that covid-19 patients are kept apart from those with other ailments to prevent spread of the virus. “The only way to comply with this is to create makeshift hospitals outside the existing hospital system without spending much,” said Dr Gyani. The first thing that needs to be done, he explained, is to ascertain the number of ICU beds needed in each district.
According to data from Wuhan in China, where the outbreak originated in December and case numbers are finally reducing, every major city will need 2.6 ICU beds per 10,000 adults. “Every bed in a covid-19 hospital needs to be an ICU bed,” he said. He estimates that Bengaluru, a city of 10 million people, may need at least 2,000 beds when infections peak. “This can become our rough guideline for identifying beds to be kept in readiness. Delhi may need 3,000, Mumbai 2,500,” Dr Gyani said.
Setting up fever clinics immediately in every neighbourhood is a must so that people with seasonal flu or mild symptoms do not rush to hospitals.-Livemint