Sudden surge in new cases renders medical supplies, facilities inadequate

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, speaking to media representatives at Humnabad in Bidar district, had said that there was no dearth of either drugs, including Remdesivir, or beds in hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients.

However, a video clip showing relatives of COVID-19 patients requesting the staff at Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences to treat patients on the hospital floor itself, if there were no beds available, that went viral on Monday tells a different story. The staff are seen turning down the request as the hospital was full.

A day before, a 55-year old woman patient, with an oxygen cylinder attached to her body, roamed Kalaburagi city in an autorickshaw for nearly five hours visiting one hospital after the other desperately searching for an ICU bed. At the end, she was treated in the vehicle outside Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences for a few hours before being admitted in hospital.

These are not isolated and rare incidents. Patients arguing with hospital authorities for beds, suffering due to lack of drugs and oxygen cylinders and running from pillar to post for treatment are common scenes in towns and cities across Kalyana Karnataka. The sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the region, particularly in Bidar and Kalaburagi districts, coupled with shortage of drugs, oxygen cylinders and hospital beds has worsened the condition. These districts are reporting between 300 and 700 cases every day at 70% positivity rate which was just 5% in January.

Shortage of Remdesivir and oxygen cylinders, apart from the shortage of beds, are the biggest problems that COVID-19 hospitals are facing in the region. There are only two oxygen manufacturers in the district which can together cater to 100 patients a day. However, there are around 600 patients being admitted to various hospitals with the requirement of oxygen support every day. The huge gap between demand and supply has led to an unreasonable rise in the prices of oxygen cylinders. As per information provided by the authorities in a private COVID-19 hospital, the price of Jumbo Oxygen Cylinder has gone up from ₹200 a week ago to ₹600 now.

“No hospital in Kalaburagi has any beds left to accommodate new patients. As for Remdesivir, there is no stock at all. The distributors who had received payment well in advance are supplying only 25% of the requirement. If we ask patients to get the drug from outside, they are overcharged. A standard Remdesivir that costs ₹2,500 is being sold at over ₹12,500. The government should put a mechanism in place to prevent hoarding of the drug by facilitating online procurement of Remdesivir to ensure that the drug is purchased only for immediate treatment. This can be done by introducing OTP-based transactions, sending the same OTP to the patient and the hospital where he is being treated in,” Vikram Siddareddy, Chairman and Managing Director of United Hospital, who ran a COVID-19 hospital in Kalaburagi, told The Hindu.

Congress spokesperson Priyank Kharge squarely blamed the government for the situation.

“The Union and State governments have learnt no lesson from the first wave. Though there was a clear indication of a second wave, they did not make any preparations to handle the situation. They hardly did anything to assess the situation and address the shortfall of beds, drugs, oxygen cylinders and ventilators. Rather, they were busy in elections as they were more concerned about power than people’s lives,” Mr. Kharge said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:32:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sudden-surge-in-new-cases-renders-medical-supplies-facilities-inadequate/article34359851.ece

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