Just around 5-10% of active Covid-19 cases have needed hospitalisation in the third pandemic wave so far, compared to 20-23% in the devastating second wave last year, the health ministry said on Monday, asking states to bolster health infrastructure and personnel accordingly, and avoid elective surgeries for the time being.
The rise in coronavirus cases seemed to be driven by a combination of the Omicron and Delta variants of concern, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states. “The situation is dynamic and evolving, therefore, the need for hospitalization may also change rapidly,” he said.
According to a HT dashboard, only 84.7%% of the hospital beds were occupied across 16 states for which hospitalisation data was available as on January 9. The trend of lower hospitalisation rates is in keeping with the Omicron-induced wave of Covid-19 across many countries.
Although states may ask private hospitals to provide treatment, authorities must ensure that they do not overcharge patients, the letter added.
All states have been advised to keep a daily watch on the situation of total number of active cases, cases under home isolation, number of hospitalized cases, and cases on oxygen beds, ICU beds, and on ventilator support. Based on this, the requirement of health workers and their availability will have to be reviewed everyday.
While some states have established large temporary health facilities, they must allocate infrastructure and human resources judiciously by staggering deployment and avoiding elective procedures, Bhushan wrote.
Centres offering Covid care must be upgraded to oxygen supported beds wherever required, the health ministry said, adding that retired medical professionals and students could be pressed into service to provide online consultation.
The states have also been asked to ensure training of community volunteers in basic care and management at Covid care centres, and to allocate ambulances and other vehicles to improve referral transport of Covid-19 positive cases from home isolation or from Covid-care centres to Covid-dedicated hospitals.
“I am sure… States/UTs will be able to plan and implement comprehensive human resource strategies to address the challenges posed by the pandemic ,” Bhushan added in his letter.