In public hospitals, too, the data shared at 8pm on Monday showed, there is a serious shortage of ICU beds, with and without ventilator support. This, doctors say, may cause a serious crisis because Covid-19 cases in Delhi are on the rise.
On Monday, the city reported 4,001 new cases of the viral infection, taking the total tally to over 3.96 lakh, even as the positivity rate hovered around 11%. The new cases came out of the 36,665 tests conducted the previous day.
Delhi had recorded over 5,000 daily cases for five days till Sunday when 5,664 cases were recorded. The highest single-day spike in Delhi till date — 5,891 — was recorded on Friday.
Forty-two fatalities were recorded in the past 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 6,604, according to the latest bulletin issued by the health department on Monday.
Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, told TOI non-adherence to preventive measures, such as wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing, were behind the increase in Covid cases. “The number of persons developing severe symptoms and those requiring ICU care have gone up. This could be due to the double impact of Covid-19 and pollution. Both are known to affect lung function,” he said.
Lok Nayak Hospital, which is run by Delhi government, had only eight Covid-19 beds with ventilators available on Monday. The number of ICU beds without a ventilator at the hospital was 79. Safdarjung and AIIMS Trauma Centre that are run by the Centre had one and five beds with ventilators available, respectively.
Among private hospitals, Apollo, Max Saket and Fortis Vasant Kunj did not have a single ICU bed available. Dr Priyadarshini Pal Singh, who heads emergency and critical care at Apollo hospital, said delay in admission was another major cause for rise in critical illness due to Covid. “If someone has Covid-19 symptoms, for example fever, cough or difficulty in breathing, he or she should get tested immediately. Even those under home isolation should be under medical supervision,” she said.
Dr Singh said deterioration of symptoms could be very sudden in Covid-19. “Covid-19 is known to cause happy hypoxia, an unusual complication portrayed by low oxygen level in blood without obvious breathing difficulty.”
A 40-year-old man was recently rushed to the Apollo emergency with very low levels of oxygen saturation. Doctors said he had intermittent fever and back pain till about a day ago and no other symptom. “In many patients, sudden complications can be caused in the second week of infection due to cytokine storm, an overreaction of the body’s immune system. Therefore, even if fever subsides, one should be watchful of any possible complication,” a doctor said.
According to Dr Sandeep Dewan, director and head of emergency and critical care at Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), nearly 80-90% of the critically-ill Covid patients have respiratory complications. “In some cases, we also see complications involving the heart, liver, kidneys and brain,” he said.
The potential long-term effects of the infection are still being studied but many patients who have recovered have reported fatigue, breathing difficulty and neurological symptoms, among others.