According to Mumbai’s Municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal there are plenty intensive care unit (ICU) beds and fully air-conditioned facilities available at all Jumbo Covid Centres but middle-class patients who form about 95% of the new COVID wave do not want to go there. This is causing confusion and a false sense of scarcity, said the commissioner, who is striving to help increase private hospital capacity, even while pointing out that most Jumbo centres set up by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) are air-conditioned and equipped with plenty of beds with ventilator facility,
Despite the sharp spike in corona patients in the past few weeks, the MCGM has more than 5,400 beds vacant overall, in designated hospitals. This includes, 148 ICU beds and 63 ventilator beds. The commissioner was responding to panic caused on social media by someone, who drove around for five hours with a 75-year-old Covid patient looking for hospitals. The municipal commissioner is at pains to tell people not to panic and to work through the dedicated helplines to avail of hospital facilities.
Responding to a tweet from a relative of a patient who was moving around in car in search of a bed in hospital, the BMC says, "We request all Mumbaikars to contact respective war rooms or 1916 - we have enough beds vacant and no one needs to go through this chase."
The MCGM has set up a ward wise war room for bed allotment and has been requesting families of patients to call on numbers of their respective wards without going out of home.
A report in the Indian Express
also points to odd requests from families of Covid-19 patients. Quoting, Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner for G-North ward, the report says, "We have enough beds in our Covid centres. But I get many calls every day seeking beds in Hinduja Hospital or Raheja Hospital. These hospitals have a waiting period for beds. When our team from the war room requests them to go to civic Covid care centres, they refuse and keep waiting."
Another ward officer told the newspaper that due to reluctance, condition of many patients’ starts deteriorating. “People call and ask if a bed is available in a particular hospital. If there is a waiting period, they remain in home isolation. In some cases, the patients’ condition worsens,” says Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner for D ward.
Many people, who had s friends, relatives or colleagues admitted at BMC's Covid centre are full of praise of the facilities and service provided by doctors, nurses, and all staff there.
Coming back to the availability of beds in Mumbai, as on 5th April, there were 1,924 ICU beds, spread across public and private hospitals, out of which 1,776 were occupied and 148 available. Overall, BMC has a bed capacity of 21,752, including dedicated COVID-19 health centres (DCHC) and dedicated COVID-19 hospitals (DCH) and COVID Care Centre-2 (government centres with doctors and nurses present all the time). Out of these, about 16,352 beds were occupied and 5,400 were vacant, information available on the municipal corporations' dashboard shows.
There are around 64,208 beds in quarantine facilities at BMC-run centres. Of this, around 13,284 are currently active beds, 5,188 beds are buffer beds and the remaining 45,736 beds are reserved, which can be used as per need.