Rajat Sharma

With COVID-19 cases and fatalities rising, situation seems to be grim in several hospitals

AKB2610The fifth phase of lockdown is set to begin from June 1 and India reported the highest single-day hike in COVID-19 cases (7,713) and deaths (270) on Friday. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has shot up to nearly 1.69 lakh, while death toll at 4,978 is fast approaching the 5,000-mark.

There has been a huge increase in the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 (11,000 plus) taking the total number of recoveries to 82,354.

At least seven states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, recorded the highest jump in COVID-19 cases. The situation is particularly grim in 13 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Friday, we showed video of a COVID-19 patient crying for help from doctors in Kota new medical college hospital, but none of the health care workers responded. The patient died soon after.

The man was suffering from chest congestion and at around 3 am, he had a seizure. He tried to use his cellphone, but it fell from his hand, as he was facing breathing difficulties. His co-patient filmed the video on phone, but none of them informed health care workers about this emergency.

The dead man’s relatives filed a medical negligence complaint in Mahavir Nagar police station. The doctors at the hospital took this matter casually saying that this type of deaths do occur.

This is really a shameful situation and strong action must be taken against those responsible. Such incidents diminish the little amount of trust that people have in our health care system.

This disturbing video reminds me of the visuals of COVID-19 patients fighting for life in the hospitals of New York, the huge number of bodies awaiting burial in the hospitals of Spain, and bodies lying on the roadside in Italy. Are we going to witness this phase in India here?

I had no intention of frightening the viewers. My only aim was to caution them about the impending danger. Since hospitals have to follow a strict protocol for disposing of bodies of COVID-19 victims, their number is piling up inside mortuaries and spilling over to hospital wards.

There was another visual of throat swab samples being taken in Thane’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hospital, with bodies of two COVID-19 patients lying on the floor nearby. Imagine the risks that people who come for tests are facing in hospitals. The hospital administration says these bodies were awaiting disposal vehicles to take them to crematoriums.

Another scary video was that of Mumbai’s KEM hospital, ward 20-A, on May 26, which showed COVID-19 victims sleeping on the floor while bodies were lying on hospital beds. This video was taken by relatives of a COVID patient. In the same hospital, bodies were lying on the passage leading to the wards.

In Rajawadi hospital, patients lying on beds were watching bodies kept on the floor of the ward. The situation was more or less the same in Cooper hospital, where patients were seen crying for attention from doctors.

People in general are not so much afraid of Coronavirus as they fear hospitalization. There is the element of fear of being neglected in hospitals during COVID-19 treatment. They fear being kept in isolation wards because of their apprehensions about poor hygiene and lack of proper meals.

It is because of this fear that many people refuse to disclose their symptoms to health care workers. I am not saying that the situation is the same in all hospitals, but this fear among common people is universal.

In the midst of this gloomy situation, the fourth phase of lockdown is ending on Sunday, and it will be extended for the fifth phase. Districts that have very few cases will get more relaxations, but the focus will be on 13 cities which are facing the full brunt of the pandemic. These 13 cities include Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Indore, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur.

The thrust this time will be on reducing the number of fresh cases and raising the number of recoveries in the 13 most affected cities. Once the pandemic comes under control in these hot spots, the curve is bound to flatten and then decline. Let us all hope for the best in the coming weeks.

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