KOLKATA: Private hospitals in Kolkata have seen a slide in the number of Covid patients from the city, even as the number from the districts has gone up over the last fortnight.
Doctors attribute this to a jump in the number of critical Covid cases in the districts, coupled with the relative ease of travel, compared with the early days of the lockdown.
At some hospitals, the jump in the number of patients from North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore and East and West Burdwan has been a sharp 30%, filling up the void left by the dip in the number of city patients. With mild and asymptomatic patients staying at home, the rush for non-critical Covid beds has eased across hospitals. This has prompted a steady flow of patients from the districts, who have so far been apprehensive about travelling to Kolkata because of bed scarcity and commuting woes.
“While it’s now easier to find a bed in a Kolkata hospital, there seems to be a spurt in the number of critical cases across south Bengal,” said Raja Dhar, a pulmonologist at Fortis Hospital. “Travelling, too, has become easier. These seem to have combined to lead to this change.”
Till August, half of the Covid patients at RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) were from Kolkata; this has dipped to 20%. “We haven’t had so few patients from Kolkata since the pandemic began. The number of patients from neighbouring districts started swelling in late-August. Then, we had around 65% of our patients from North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata, with the city contributing the biggest chunk. Its share has now dropped,” said RTIICS zonal director R Venkatesh.
AMRI Hospitals, too, has seen a marginal drop in the number of Kolkata patients and a corresponding leap in the number of patients from neighbouring districts. “Ever since transport restrictions started easing, the flow of patients from North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Midnapore has gone up. It’s not a big jump yet, but the number of Kolkata patients has started to slide for the first time,” said AMRI CEO Rupak Barua.
Even though it’s a small change so far, the trend reversal is significant and could be signalling the beginning of a much-awaited dip in numbers, felt an internal medicine consultant of a private hospital. “The number of Covid patients in Kolkata who require hospitalization has dropped. So far, the slide is a not a huge one, but it suggests that it has started and numbers will dip more noticeably sooner rather than later,” he said.
The number of Kolkata patients had been sliding occasionally at Fortis Hospital since late-August. “We haven’t yet seen a spurt in patients from the districts merely because it’s still not easy or feasible to transport patients. Ambulance charges remain forbiddingly high, so even though we are getting queries from across south Bengal, actual admissions have been few. In Kolkata, on the other hand, the number has remained either static or marginally dropped over the last two weeks,” said Dhar.
Enquiries from districts have gone up manifold at Medica Superspecialty Hospital as well. “We have seen several Covid patients being brought in ambulances, having travelled four-five hours. They have been brought from places like Asansol, Durgapur, Jhargram and Ranaghat. Till August-end, we received none from these places. But while enquiries are frequent, the numbers have been low due to transport difficulties,” said chairperson Alok Roy.