Govt mulls over closing down Covid hospitals

Number of patients declining: Beds remain empty


In view of the drastic fall in admission of coronavirus patients to both public and private health facilities, the government may embark on closing down some of the COVID-19 dedicated hospitals across the country.

However, the Directorate General of Health Services has decided to keep watch on the situation for the next one week on the state of coronavirus pandemic before making any decision of closure of the COVID-19 hospitals and medical centers. Some time is needed to mull it over before making the final decision, it said.

On March 8, the first corona patient was identified in Bangladesh. There was a gradual surge in corona infections across the country, following March 8, leading to flooding of corona patients in the COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in the capital.

Now, the COVID-19 hospitals witness a changed scenario as hospital beds have remained empty since the beginning of June. By the end of June, half of the ICUs and two-thirds of the beds in the country's COVID dedicated hospitals were empty, according to the Department of Health. Currently about three-fourths of the total beds in these hospitals are empty.

Health department officials say the flow of patients began to decline since Mid-June and now fewer patients are coming to the COVID-19 dedicated hospitals. The number of patients in some hospitals has come down to almost zero. And most of the beds in these hospitals are empty. Doctors, nurses and hospital personnel and medical equipment are also being underutilised.

Because of such a situation, the treatment of other diseases is being hampered in these hospitals. At the same time, the hospitals from which doctors and nurses were brought are also facing difficulties including shortage of doctors and health staff.

The officials of the department, however, said that the COVID -19 treatment will resume if needed.
According to the Department of Health, there are currently 28 public and private COVID-19 dedicated hospitals in the country, out of which 16 are in the Dhaka metropolis and the rest 12 are in four districts.

Against the total number of 6,305 general beds and 6,447 ICU beds in the capital, 2,091 patients were admitted, that meant 4,356 beds were empty.

In this regard Director (Hospital) at the Department of Health Aminul Hasan said the admission of new corona patients has witnessed a downward trend and many beds are empty.

“As a result, we are thinking of shutting down some COVID-19 dedicated hospitals. However, no final decision has been made yet. We will monitor the situation during the next one week. Later, we will decide what to do,” he said.

However, Dr. Uttam Kumar Barua, (Director) of government Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital said COVID dedicated hospitals should not be closed. “Our hospital is both COVID and non-COVID health facility. The 850-bed hospital has a 200- bed corona unit,” he added.

“Since the introduction of the COVID-19 unit on June 27, almost all beds here remained full. Now the number of patients seems to be decreasing everywhere. But I think this is not the proper time to close down COVID-19 dedicated hospitals. Just two days ago 51 patients died. We have to wait for a few more days before arriving at a decision,” Dr. Barua concluded.