The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is expecting a tremendous surge of the coronavirus cases in Mumbai by the end of May, Scroll.in has learnt. To tackle the crisis, the civic body has planned to create facilities for 70,000 beds in the city’s hospitals in addition to accommodating 40,000 people in public and private schools.
These plans were outlined in the minutes of a meeting held on April 24 between senior BMC officials, the heads of public and private hospitals and other stakeholders. Mumbai has the highest number of coronavirus cases of any Indian city at over 5,500.
Just two days before this meeting, the BMC had dismissed reports that claimed that a central government team had projected a huge surge in novel coronavirus cases in Mumbai in May, touching an estimated 6.5 lakh cases by May 15.
The minutes of the April 24 meeting, accessed by Scroll.in, state that the municipal commissioner briefed the heads of hospitals about the need to ramp up their total bed capacity to 70,000 by the end of May 2020, “as per a mathematical model which has predicted this requirement”. Each bed would also need to be connected to oxygen pipelines, to help Covid-19 patients stabilise before they reach a stage where they need ventilation.
The document also listed 20 hospitals and three quarantine centres that have already “shown their readiness” to ramp up their facilities. BMC’s Seven Hills hospital, for instance, claims it can prepare 1,300 beds with oxygen line facilities by May 10, while Nair Hospital can prepare 1,000 beds by May 15.
The minutes of the meeting indicated that the municipal corporation is already in talks with a manufacturer of oxygen cylinders to help hospitals get their beds fitted with oxygen lines.
To treat asymptomatic Covid-positive patients, the BMC has also directed its officials to take over “all aided, unaided and private schools” to accommodate 40,000 to 45,000 people.
Since all these facilities will require large numbers of doctors and nurses, the municipal corporation has also directed hospitals to fill up their vacant posts from the waiting lists of previous recruitments, hire staff on temporary contracts and enlist dentists and AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) doctors to monitor the coronavirus care centres and quarantine centres. Two public sector doctors have been appointed to conduct online training for these doctors and nurses.
One of the other steps the civic body plans to take to tackle the anticipated surge of cases is to send trained teams to visit suspected patients at their homes and screen them for comorbidities. Anticipating a shortage of ambulances, the BMC also plans to tie up with the aggregator taxi service Uber, which has offered one crore free rides to the government or municipal authorities to transport patients to health facilities.
The municipal commissioner also directed all zonal officers to ensure that at least five private clinics are opened in each zone to cater to the needs of “non-Covid-19 medical conditions of citizens”. “Get the licenses of non-cooperative clinics cancelled immediately,” the minutes of the meeting added.