Medical-infrastructure could soon collapse in Maharashtra, UP, Delhi, TN, Gujarat
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in India, the Centre has warned that five most-affected states — Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and Gujarat — could soon fall short of ICU beds and ventilators, both necessary to defeat COVID-19. These findings were a part of Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba's presentation given during a meeting with state chief and health secretaries.
For this projection, Gauba relied on the current trends, the surge in confirmed cases, and Case Fatality Rate (CFR). While the national CFR seems stable, 69 districts have higher CFR. In Delhi, projections indicated ICU beds may have already run out on June 3. Ventilators and isolated oxygen beds would run out on June 12 and June 25, projected Centre.
Maharashtra, which has the highest number of cases, would face a shortfall of ICU beds for treatment by August 8. It could run out of ventilators, a little before that on July 27. Tamil Nadu would run out ICU beds by July 9 and would not have isolation beds with oxygen after July 21. The situation doesn't look heartening in five other states too.
Considering how things are playing out, medical infrastructure could cripple in Haryana, Karnataka, J&K (a union territory), Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal. Authorities were advised to prepare "sufficient hospital capacity through advance planning for the next 2 months". An action plan related to upgrading the health system must be readied. Separately, in 17 districts, critical care items would be exhausted in the upcoming month.
The districts where things look bleak include Gurugram, Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Jalgaon, Chennai, and Gautam Buddh Nagar. Authorities were suggested against letting the guard down. The presentation disclosed that the confirmation rate (the percentage of those testing positive) increased from 4.87% two weeks ago to 5.7%. In 46 districts of 13 states, the confirmation rate was over 10% as of June 9.
"Mumbai and Thane in Maharashtra and Chennai in Tamil Nadu for instance have a higher confirmation rate than 20%, while Palghar (Maharashtra), Medchal-Malkajgiri (Telangana) and Hojai (Assam) have more than 20% confirmation rate in rural areas," the Centre said.
The states were also told that in 69 districts, spread across 13 states, the fatality rate crossed 5%. 51 of them belonged to four states only — Maharashtra, UP, MP, and Gujarat. The states of Maharashtra, TN, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bengal, make for 76% of the total coronavirus cases in India, while 82% of the deaths came from Maharashtra, Delhi, Bengal, Gujarat, and MP.
The Centre noted that now the infection was moving towards the east and newer districts were getting affected. "98 districts have been infected in the past three weeks. Significant spread in North-Eastern states since 53 of these districts are from there. Significant spread in eastern states. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal account for 25 recently infected districts," the presentation read.
About the way forward, the Centre stressed on containment, testing, tracing, and upgrading the health infrastructure. Noting that institutional isolation is necessary to save the health system from collapsing, the Centre asked states to ramp up infrastructure in the next two months. Hotels and stadiums could also be utilized and special attention must be given to co-morbid/elderly patients, Centre suggested.