New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) With coronavirus cases declining in the national capital, some private hospitals here are seeing increase in non-Covid patients returning to medical facilities and conducting elective surgeries that were put on a backburner due to the raging pandemic.
Delhi has been reeling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping the country, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with the recent oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals, adding to the woes.
Since April 19, both daily cases and single-day death count had been spiralling up, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22. On May 3, the city registered a record 448 deaths, according to official data.
However, the number of cases have shown a downward trend and the positivity rate too has been shrinking in the last several days. The number of deaths per day has also been showing a decline in the last couple of days.
Dr Madhu Handa, Medical Director of Moolchand Hospital, said that in the last one week, they have seen an increase in patients coming to OPDs and for elective surgeries that they had delayed due to the fear of COVID-19.
Non-Covid patients have started coming to hospitals again, said P K Bhardwaj, chief executive director of Saroj Hospital.
'The fear has reduced to some extent, but some people are still scared of visiting hospitals. Normally, our OPD would record 800 patients. At present, the number is around 200. The number of non-Covid patients receiving indoor services would touch the 200-mark in normal times. At present, it is 50-55. Of this, maximum patients are those receiving emergency treatment,' he said.
Hospitals are also reopening beds for non-Covid patients as the number of coronavirus cases has seen a major decline. According to government data, 134 COVID-19 admissions were recorded across hospitals in the city on Thursday.
'At the peak of the second wave, we had around 450 COVID-19 patients, now the number has dwindled to around 40. The beds are being reopened for non-Covid patients. The ICU is being reopened for non-Covid patients, like it was before.
'OPDs have started to see cases again in the last 10 days. So, the numbers of non-Covid patients has increased and the hospital is looking like the hospital it used to be,' said Dr M S Kanwar, senior consultant, Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Dr Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka, said with people delaying procedures, their illnesses got aggravated and now when they are coming to hospitals for surgeries, the operative procedures they have to undergo are more complex.
Even though the number of patients has increased, some hospitals here have said that the number of elective surgeries are still much lower as compared to pre-Covid times.
Bhardwaj said hardly 10 per cent of the routine surgeries are being conducted while emergency surgeries are going on.
Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, concurred with Bhardwaj and said that even now, people are not really willing to come to the hospital unless there is an emergency.
'So, we are mostly seeing gynae surgeries now, deliveries, and cardiac procedures, which are urgent and cannot be avoided. We have a very large joint replacement program, which went to very low levels in April and May, May was almost negligible levels. But, we have started seeing a return of that programme. It is a purely elective surgery and we are hoping that we will have normal pre-Covid numbers by the end of this month,' he added.
Handa said that during the peak of COVID-19, people were preferring to go to smaller nursing homes and clinics that were non-Covid.
She also said that they are waiting for the Delhi government to issue orders to de-escalate the number of beds.
Chaudhary also agreed with Handa and said that the government should act fast.
'There is an inertia of starting and closing the lockdown. If the positivity rate is declining below five per cent, the government should act faster. They have to strike a fine balance between safety and economic productivity,' he said. PTI SLB/GVS KJ