Pune: Forecasting that the COVID-19 pandemic is only going to get worse, noted surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty has said India will need an extra 5 lakh ICU beds, 2 lakh nurses and 1.5 lakh doctors in the next few weeks, and also suggested radical solutions to meet the mountainous challenge.
At present, India has only 75,000 to 90,000 ICU beds and almost all are already occupied – when the second wave of the pandemic hasn”t even reached its peak yet, he said. India is reporting about 3.5 lakh cases a day, and some experts say the number could go up to 5 lakh cases daily at its peak.
While most of the newspaper headlines and prime time television coverage has been over the lack of oxygen for the patients in ICUs, “I am having sleepless nights for the next headline, which is going to be that patients are dying in ICUs because there are no nurses and doctors to take care of the patients,” he said.
“And this is going to happen. I do not doubt it now,” said Dr Shetty, the chairman and founder of Narayana Health, a chain of 21 medical centres in India, in his online address at the Symbiosis Golden Jubilee Lecture Series in Pune recently.
He pointed out that for every patient who is tested positive, there are 5 to 10 people who are positive but not tested. That means more than 15 to 20 lakh people are getting infected every day in India even now. Statistically, five per cent of the positive patients need an ICU bed, irrespective of their age. On an average, a patient in ICU spends at least 10 days there.