One isolation bed per 84,000 people, 1 quarantine bed per 36,000: Govt data

Abantika Ghosh
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Health experts say that this data may have spurred Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal for social distancing and call for a Janata Curfew. (File)

According to data collected by the Union Health Ministry, as of March 17, there is one isolation bed per 84,000 Indians, and one quarantine bed per 36,000 Indians. The data, collected in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, states there is one doctor per 11,600 Indians, and one hospital bed per 1,826 Indians.

Health experts say that this data may have spurred Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal for social distancing and call for a Janata Curfew—all in a bid to “flatten the curve” and space out the load on India's stressed public health infrastructure.

ICMR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology director Anurag Agarwal said, “We are in Stage 2 of transmission, and social distancing is very effective at this stage. Stage 3 requires lockdown. Based on surveillance data, ICMR has made it very clear that every case thus far can be explained. What social distancing does at this stage is to flatten the curve to prevent overloading of the health infrastructure... Janata Curfew is good practice for the future. Based on current data, the government seems to be doing the right thing."

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At a meeting which Modi held with chief ministers and state health ministers on Friday, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said that India is currently in Phase 2 of transmission, emphasising that at present, it is in the window for taking action to minimise the risk of transmission of Phase 3. He talked about the importance of judicious use of health facilities and need to focus on ramping up quarantine facilities and isolation wards.

According to government data from the National Health Profile 2019, there are 1,154,686 registered allopathic doctors in the country and 7,39,024 government hospital beds

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For a population of 135 crore, that means health infrastructure is woefully stretched even during ordinary times, but in case of COVID-19, the additional problem is that the private sector is not yet a part of the management plan. That means only government beds are available for patients.

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