Hospitals’ ICU occupancy tells a serious COVID tale in Delhi

A digital electronic board showing availability of ICU and oxygen beds at the emergency of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in New Delhi on May 21, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The sharp dip in COVID-19 cases in the Capital is reflected in the discharge of patients from general COVID wards of hospitals in the past few days, but not in those occupying ICU beds. On May 10, the number of patients on ICU beds was 5,403, a figure that dropped to 4,798 — over 11% — on May 22.

According to Delhi government statistics, the cumulative tally of active COVID-positive cases recorded a decline of 67%, plummeting from 83,809 to 27,610 between May 10 and 22, and the number of non-ICU patients reduced by over 58% from 12,740 to 5,226.

More and more COVID-19 patients are being discharged from hospitals on a daily basis indicating the steady departure of the second wave of novel coronavirus infection from the Capital. But the thousands of seriously ill among them who continue to occupy ICU beds have emerged as a cause for concern. According to doctors, this indicates both the virulence of new variants as well as the severity of lung damage suffered by COVID patients who contracted the infection in the second wave.

‘More younger patients’

“During the second wave we have come across more younger patients than older ones. Much damage to the respiratory system along with issues such as sepsis and multiple organ failure have been noticed in patients, which necessitates their need for intensive care,” said Dr. Survankar Datta of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

This, even as discharge figures were more than double the number of COVID-19 patients admitted on Sunday — 905 against 412. This also happens to be the lowest number of hospital admissions in the city since April 5 when 406 COVID-19 patients were admitted.

“Lack of timely access to oxygen after contracting the infection has also been observed as a reason for the extent of lung damage. Patients in ICUs this time are certainly taking more time to recover,” said Dr. Ashwin Mallya, consultant urologist and robotic surgeon, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, who handled numerous COVID patients this year.

“There are also instances where they have returned to ICUs because of post-COVID complications given the damage to their lungs,” he said.

According to government records, the number of patients in ICU mostly remained stable and even increased on some days – from 5,425 on May 11 to 5,727 on May 12, 5,693 on May 13 to 5,700 on May 14, for instance. However, the number has been declining since May 17: from 5,617 to 5540 on May 18, and 5382, 5141, 4939, 4798 on May 19, 20, 21 and 22.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 5:43:29 AM |

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