Touted as a game changer by the Central government in easing the acute hospital bed crisis in the Capital for COVID-19 patients, the recently-opened 10,200-bedded Sardar Patel COVID Care Centre (SPCCC) at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas in Chhatarpur currently has a bed occupancy of just 123 patients and 2,000 functional beds. Catering to 11 districts of Delhi, the facility mirrors the low-bed occupancy across the Capital, where over two-third of COVID beds are lying vacant.

As per the Health Ministry data, the health infrastructure dedicated to provide medical attention to the COVID affected across the country includes 1,370 Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH), 3,062 Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHC), and 10,334 COVID care centres (CCC).

The Capital alone offers 15,253 hospital beds, 9,217 beds in dedicated COVID care centres and 544 in COVID healthcare centres. Earlier this week, the Capital got an additional 1,000 beds with the opening of a temporary medical centre built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

In mid-June there was a huge demand for COVID beds. An analysis by the Delhi government showed that during this period, patients were brought in and admitted in a critical condition and 15% of COVID deaths took place within two days of arrival.

However, Delhi is doing better in July with over 75% recovery rate against the national recovery rate of 62.93%, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

Treatment approach

“Currently, the approach for treatment of COVID-19 is largely based on supportive care since there is no cure. Maintaining good hydration is essential. Based on the severity of symptoms, COVID-19 can be categorised into three groups: mild, moderate and severe,” said a senior Health Ministry official.

As per the Health Ministry’s clinical management protocol of COVID-19 for moderate and severe cases, adequate oxygen support, appropriate and timely administration of anti-coagulants, and widely available and inexpensive corticosteroids in accordance with the protocol can be considered the mainstay of COVID-19 therapy. For mild cases, which comprise nearly 80% of the cases, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) has been recommended. The standard of care treatment strategies have shown to yield positive results.

Decline and climb

“Delhi, however, has benefited from stringent testing measures, priority containment of cases and their contacts and the medical support that has been offered to patients at home isolation. We are in a better position infrastructure-wise than we were in mid-June. But we are dealing with a virus that is unpredictable and trends in several countries have shown that there can be a decline and then a climb in number,” said a Delhi Health Department official.

D.K. Sharma, Medical Superintendent of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) noted that despite the fact that the rush for beds is currently manageable, the infrastructure has to be in a state of preparedness.

“One-third COVID beds of AIIMS Trauma Centre and Jhajjar campus are currently occupied with approximately 400 patients in both,” he said.

Lok Nayak Hospital Medical Director Suresh Kumar agreed that the stress on hospital beds for COVID has come down by 50%, as patients are opting for home isolation and care.

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