Seven months into pandemic, finding a hospital bed is still tough in many places


NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: More than seven months after India’s first Covid-19 case was reported, getting a hospital or ICU bed for patients appears to be a struggle in some places, including the capital and Mumbai.

Only 4% of the people in the country who needed an ICU bed for Covid-19 treatment were able to get it through the routine process, while 78% had to use connections and clout, according to a survey conducted by an online civic portal.

The survey by LocalCircles revealed that patients complained that while the government’s app showed ICU bed availability, hospitals told them that no beds were available.

However, official figures suggest there is no lack of beds for patients. In Mumbai, municipal chief Iqbal Chahal said the city has over 1,000 vacant beds that can be activated when needed. According to New Delhi’s dashboard, there are a total 15,750 beds, of which 7,053 were occupied and 8,697 were vacant as of Monday.

While both government and private hospitals in New Delhi show that they have adequate beds and the situation is under control, patients tell a different story.

“We ran from one hospital to another as all major hospitals in Delhi told us there were no beds available,” said the son of JP Singh, a Covid-19 patient who died on Sunday as the family tried to get him admitted. “Shortage of beds in Delhi sounds unlikely. The situation is under control,” said an official from a private hospital on condition of anonymity.

Indraprastha Apollo said it has 300 beds earmarked for Covid-19 patients and 201 were occupied as of Monday. According to Max Healthcare, its dedicated Covid-19 facility has 250 beds of which 23 are vacant and at the nearby Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket, there are 100 beds, of which 55 were vacant.

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Government hospitals like AIIMS had 51 beds vacant, while at Lok Nayak Hospital, 1,339 beds were vacant on Monday. In New Delhi, there were reports suggesting that the shortage of beds was due to patients from neighbouring states seeking treatment in the capital.

Private healthcare providers said they are also working to create more space for Covid patients.

“We have 1,243 beds occupied by Covid patients including 311 ICU beds and are continuing to dedicate more beds,” Fortis Healthcare said.





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