Bihar gets ready for third wave of COVID-19

Bihar Tejaswi Yadav house covid
A view of RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav’s official residence temporarily converted into a COVID19 isolation ward amid the rise in cases, in Patna on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: The Bihar government has begun preparations to increase the number of beds in all government hospitals and equip them with medical facilities in a bid to tackle a possible third wave of COVID-19.

The preparations started amid reports that a third wave could infect children, after the devastating impact of coronavirus in its second wave affecting people across all age-groups, especially the youth.

As part of the strategy, the state government is increasing the number of beds to 40,000. Currently, the total number of beds in all COVID-19 Care Centres, dedicated COVID-19 Healthcare Centres and Hospitals in the state is 30,343. Out of these, 27,636 beds are occupied by patients.

“The health department is making preparations keeping in view the lurking threats of COVID-19. We are making preparations at all levels to contain coronavirus and also increase medical facilities in hospitals,” Bihar’s health secretary Pratyay Amrit said.

Health officials said in the first phase they were trying to supply oxygen through pipelines by setting up oxygen plants in all 12 COVID-19 hospitals in the state. After that, piped oxygen supply will be made to every bed in all 94 district health centres too. “Work is already in progress to supply oxygen through pipelines in every ward of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH),” hospital superintendent Dr IS Thakur said. He added every bed would be fitted with an oxygen facility.

The health department has focused its attention on arranging beds with medical facilities for children who, the experts fear, could be mostly affected in the third wave. Currently, there are 816 beds for children in the nine medical college hospitals in the state. Of these, only 225 have oxygen facilities.

Authorities said they were also reserving beds for children in all the main government hospitals in Patna.

Apart from these, the government has also begun the process to purchase oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, beds, ambulances and other necessary items. The government is using the funds allotted to the Panchayati Raj department by the 15th Finance Commission to buy these medical equipment for hospitals located in the rural areas.

“We are using the funds allotted to the department to purchase these hospital equipment,” Panchayati Raj department’s secretary Amrit Lal Meena told the media. According to officials, around Rs50 billion is being spent on improving the health infrastructure in hospitals located in districts.

Conflicting views have emerged over the impact of the third wave. While many experts apprehend the third wave will impact the children, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria said there is no clear indication whether children will be severely affected in the third wave of the pandemic.

“It has been said that children will be infected the most in the third wave, but the Paediatrics Association has said that this is not based on facts. It might not impact children so people should not fear,” Guleria told the media on Monday. He said the children had been only mildly affected in both the first and second wave of the pandemic.