COVID-19: Why are Maha, Delhi and Gujarat needing more ventilators?

ventilator, prototype

New Delhi, May 8 : On May 4, India entered its third but more relaxed phase of lockdown till May 17. However, the number of COVID-19 cases in 24 hours time has increased threefold in the last few days with a few states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi seeing an extra requirement of ventilators, in comparison with the national percentage. But why is it so?

The Union Health Ministry, on Friday, said, 1.1 per cent people are on ventilators. But barely 12 days ago, only 0.36 per cent needed ventilator support. That clearly shows a rising need for ventilators as the overall active cases of COVID-19 seem to be heading upwards. As on Friday, 37,916 people in India were under active medical supervision for COVID-19.

Health experts say it may be due to mainly two reasons — number of new cases per day which has increased in the last few days and secondly, old patients of COVID-19 whose health might deteriorate and they require ventilator support.

Speaking to IANS, Vijay Datta of Internal Medicine at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre said: “COVID-19 patients, who are in ICU, generally take longer time to recuperate and at the same time active cases also accumulate and they too don’t get cured too quickly. This shows how fast the infection is spreading. This rising requirement for ICU beds in many states is worrying and if the patients rise too quickly then it could overwhelm the hospitals. Because the number of patients in these cities is high, hence there is a rise in demand of ventilators, the trend that I see is that the infection is now spreading at a much faster rate.”

However, experts insist there’s no cause for sounding the alarm, at least not yet.

In Maharashtra, a total of 92 people are on ventilators, while in Delhi at least 13 people were on ventilators till May 7. Meanwhile, in Gujarat, at least 7.26 people of the total cases are on ventilator so far, as per the state government’s data.

With a surge of 3,390 new cases, the total tally of Novel Coronavirus cases in India stood at 56,342 on Friday, the Union Health Ministry said.

On Thursday, the total number of cases reported was 52,952 including 3,561 new cases in 24 hours.

The number of active cases on Thursday was 35,902. On Wednesday, with 2,958 new cases India’s coronavirus count climbed to 49,391 of which there were 33,514 active cases. The highest jump in new cases was reported on May 5 with 3,900 cases in 24 hours time, taking the total tally to 46,433, of which at least 32,138 were active cases.

As on Friday, Maharashtra reported 17,974, Gujarat reported 7,012 cases and Delhi reported 5,980 cases according to the Union Health Ministry data.

Avi Kumar, Consultant, Pulmonology at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute told IANS: “The increase in number of cases per day is due to the relaxations provided by the government in the past few days and people are also not maintaining social distancing. As per the latest numbers, it clearly shows that we are not flattening the curve of COVID-19 in India and we are going in a geometric linear way and India will witness its peak in next 3-4 weeks. Maybe in the red zone areas where COVID infection is prevalent, the lockdown should be increased.”

Explaining the rising number of cases which need ventilator support, Kumar said: “There can be multiple factors for this trend. One such reason is that the infected person could be above the age of 60. People who are requiring ventilators, mostly have underlying health conditions. In Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the number of cases has increased significantly in the past few days and the doubling rate has also decreased.”

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