COVID-19: HC terms situation in city ‘scary’

Number of ICU beds in government quota hits ‘zero’ on BBMP portal during court hearing

In an unprecedented and ‘scary’ moment, the number of beds available for COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) in city hospitals under government quota touched ‘zero’ around 5 p.m. on Friday when the High Court of Karnataka was inquiring about availability of beds, oxygen and other facilities.

Around 4.50 p.m., the counsel for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was informing the court about the number of beds available under government quota in the categories of High Dependency Units (HDU), ICU and ICU with ventilator.

At that point, six beds in ICU, 10 beds in ICU with ventilator and 32 beds in HDU were available as per the online bed availability portal of the BBMP.

Based on these figures, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar asked the counsel of the Karnataka government whether this was an alarming situation.

Counsel for BBMP intervened and told the bench that, at that moment, no beds in ICU for COVID-19 patients were available under the government quota managed by the BBMP. The counsel said that BBMP’s bed status portal was showing ‘zero’ ICU bed availability.

It was also pointed out to the court, at that moment, only 11 ICU beds with ventilator were available apart from beds in HDU category.

However, the Chief Health Officer, who was present along with the counsel, told the bench that bed position is dynamic, and more beds would be available when private hospitals discharge non-COVID-19 patients depending on their health status. Teams of officials are visiting every private hospital to make provision for beds in terms of the government’s directive for COVID-19 patients, he said

Recording this situation, the bench termed the COVID-19 situation in the city as ‘shocking and appears to be scary’ while directing the State government to immediately step in to identify ICU beds in hospitals in neighbouring districts.

The bench also directed the government to set up help desks outside every designated COVID-19 hospital to assist and guide patients and their relatives on availability of beds and Remdesivir injection. The government has also been directed to submit data on requirement and supply of oxygen in Karnataka.

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