With growing number of coronavirus cases and fragile health system, Chattogram people are apprehending the highly infectious disease can very quickly complicate the problem even further.
The number of people infected with coronavirus in Chittagong so far stood at 716. Of these, 100 have recovered and 32 died. The death rate is three times higher than the rest of the country's rate.
The availability of beds in the hospitals in the port city is abysmally low coupled with inadequate ICU beds, ventilators and other necessary medical facilities. Fear is running high here posing a question where Chattogram stands in terms of medical capacity to provide necessary healthcare to the affected corona patients.
Community spread of the disease is likely to lead to rapid and huge increase in demand for health facilities, experts said.
Till Sunday, in the country, overall infections are 22,268 and total dead are 328. The rate of fatalities in the country is 1.5 percent. But the rate in Chattogram, the second-largest city and the main port city of the country, is almost 4.5 percent. In Chattogram, the main hospital for the treatment of COVID-19 infections-- General Hospital-- has become overburdened and the admission of new patients has been stopped.
Other two medical facilities, Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Disease (BITID) and Chattogram Field Hospital (CFH), a makeshift arrangement for treatment of corona patients, are also full of patients. In such a situation, authorities are now working to open another two units for the treatment of coronavirus infected people in two separate hospitals.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the government set up a Corona Unit at Chattogram General Hospital with one hundred general beds and 10 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds. Besides this, 30 beds of BITID in Fouzdhar Hat area of Sitakundo and a field hospital in the same area of 50 beds are also engaged in corona treatment.
Of the 32 people who died in Chattogram, the highest 11 persons died at General Hospital.
About the reason behind these fatalities, DR. Abdur Rab Masum, in-charge of corona unit of Chattogram General Hospital, told The Bangladesh Post that there is a huge shortage of medical officers, nurses, and supporting staffs here. The corona unit of the hospital has a total of only 13 nurses and 6 staffs. With such small manpower, it is impossible to run a hospital with 100 beds for very sensitive patients.
DR. Abdur Rab also said, “Coronavirus sufferers die from a variety of physical complications. They need different types of tests and treatment, which are not available at the General Hospital and other medical facilities dedicated for COVID-19 patients.”
”In Bangladesh's perspective, the medical college hospitals are the best for any treatment, test, and diagnosis of diseases. Due to this Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH) has been asked to start a complete corona unit,” he added.
Health department sources said a 100-bed corona unit will be launched at CMCH soon. At present, the CMCH authority is working on the possibility of operating a 300-bed corona isolation unit by adding 200 more beds to the 100-bed unit. The Holy Crescent Hospital, a private hospital in Chattogram city, will also be brought under government management to treat the corona victims. Holly Crescent Hospital has the necessary ICU and ventilator facilities, but CMCH hospital will need ICU beds on an emergency basis.
The coronavirus infection situation in Chattogram is getting worse day by day with the steady increase of corona patients in the last few days. Besides the rise of infection, the type of infection has also changed infecting doctors, police, journalists, garment workers, and vegetable sellers, among others.
Mohammad Ilias Hossain, DC and head of coronavirus prevention committee, told The Bangladesh Post that as the lockdown has eased, so has the movement of people increased, which has led to an increase in the number of infections. This situation can be exacerbated if people are not aware of social distancing and hygiene.”
The enforcement efforts are also continuing but the presence of people outside is so huge that it is impossible to control, he said, adding “Now we are trying to extend treatment facilities as much as we can.”