COVID-19 | Guntur overwhelmed by second wave

Lack of beds and shortage of oxygen, drugs adding to woes of patients

Overcrowded hospitals, long queues in front of labs and diagnostic centres and a sense of panic writ all over faces of anxious family members. The nights are filled with uncertainty and the eerie silence is broken frequently by the piercing sound of an ambulance siren.

These are the sights across Guntur, which is battling a vicious second wave of COVID-19 that has led to a sudden spurt in cases over the weekend.

Adding to the woes of patients is the lack of oxygen at many hospitals. The apparent shortage of Remdesivir — hailed by many as a wonder drug — is also adding to their fear.

For a city that bore the brunt of pandemic during the first wave, it is surprising to see it struggling to tackle the second wave which began sweeping the country from April 1, say experts.

“We have beds available but there is no guarantee on the supply of oxygen. We are asking the patients to get antiviral drugs. We are helpless and unable to manage the surge of patients,” said a hospital administrator.

With the situation worsening, some patients have shifted to neighbouring districts.

“The situation in our hospitals is worsening. The scarcity of oxygen has made the situation worrisome. We had to run helter-skelter for a bed for a 70-year-old man. We managed to find one at a hospital, and then managed to procure an oxygen cylinder too. However, there was no flow meter to use and it. We finally managed to set it up by midnight, and we are hoping that he will recover,” said a doctor.

The healthcare infrastructure in the district is bursting at its seams as the explosion of the COVID-19 cases continues.

The district recorded 1,576 cases on Sunday, out of which Guntur city alone recorded 445 cases, the highest caseload in recent times.

The district administration, which successfully managed to overcome the first wave, has swung into action and allotted 6,000 beds at 54 government and private hospitals to treat patients affected by the virus. Collector Vivek Yadav constituted nodal officers to monitor every hospital. A daily dossier on hospital preparedness and current status of hospitals and occupancy is being released.

As of Sunday, a total of 3,906 beds are available at hospitals, out of which 629 are ICU beds, 1,984 are non-ICU beds, 1,293 non-ICU and non-oxygen beds, and 307 ventilators. The district’s overall caseload has crossed 1.03 lakh.

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