As the queues for beds and life-saving oxygen get longer in Delhi, scores of Covid-19 patients have flocked to neighbouring Punjab.
According to sources in the Punjab health department, the number of patients from Delhi could easily surpass 500 in the last fortnight. “We haven’t collated the data, but our estimate is a minimum of 500 cases across hospitals in Punjab. Twice as many people are also in touch with doctors in Punjab either for medical advice or seeking admission,” says an official.
Most of these patients are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Jalandhar, Patiala, Ludhiana and Mohali. The rush of patients is explained by the overwhelming surge in cases after the second wave hit the country.
In Delhi, since April 17 the number of new daily Covid-19 cases has been consistently well above 20,000. Punjab, meanwhile, recorded 6,472 cases on Wednesday, and the daily infection count hasn’t gone beyond 8,400 that the state recorded on April 25.
There are around 8,500 L2 beds (meant for moderately ill patients) in the state, of which 70 per cent are occupied currently, sources in the state government said. The number of L3 or ICU beds stands at 2,200 with nearly 40 per cent vacancies at present.
Navjot Dahiya, a doctor at Jalandhar-based Global Hospital, says they receive 10-15 calls from Covid-19 patients from outside Punjab and predominantly Delhi daily. “Many patients from Delhi have been admitted to our hospital. Some were critical cases and required oxygen, while others were less serious but the patients were suffering from anxiety. Right now we have two patients from Delhi.”
Most of these patients either have kinship ties or friends in Punjab. “The patients who came here couldn’t find beds in Delhi. So when they knocked on our doors, as medics we couldn’t have refused admission,” Dahiya adds.
Vijay Mahajan, a doctor at the Tagore Hospital and Heart Care Centre in Jalandhar, says that around 12 patients from Delhi are currently admitted. “Going by the phone calls we receive, it is apparent that the situation is very grim in Delhi,” he adds.
In Patiala, Rajendra Hospital has also witnessed a constant flow of patients. It had 14 recent cases from Delhi and one from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, says Satinder Singh, civil surgeon at the hospital. “Two of the patients succumbed to the virus. We are doing our best, but most of the patients reach us in a critical state. And resuscitating them isn’t easy.”
At NHS Hospital, Jalandhar, 12 patients from Delhi were admitted in the last two to three days, says Shubhang Aggarwal, a doctor there.
Many patients, who are in waiting, have rented flats in Jalandhar near hospitals. In view of the rush of patients from Delhi, nodal officers in Punjab are also planning to upgrade facilities, such as increasing the number of L3 beds.
Sukhjeevan Kakkar, civil surgeon at Civil Hospital in Ludhiana, says, “At present, 1,100 beds are occupied in Ludhiana district. Three hundred beds are vacant and we will soon add 400 beds especially for Covid patients.”