We are relieved to know about the government's latest initiative to turn Dhaka North City Corporation's (DNCC) kitchen market in Mohakhali into a makeshift hospital dedicated to Covid-19 treatment. With both death and the infection rates due to Covid-19 breaking all the previous records and creating new ones (a record 112 people died yesterday), this is a commendable step. As many families are struggling to find treatment facilities for their Covid-19 infected members, this hospital will help in mitigating the ongoing healthcare crisis to a great extent.
According to a report published by The Daily Star yesterday, the DNCC Covid-19 hospital is at present the largest of its kind. There are 50 ICU beds, 50 emergency beds and 150 general beds available here right now, which will be increased to 112, 100 and 250, respectively, in the coming days. Adequate oxygen supply has also been ensured, and the hospital will also host 540 isolated high-care rooms for Covid-19 patients. A large number of healthcare professionals and administrative staff have been assigned for uninterrupted service at this hospital, including 130 doctors, 200 nurses, 300 other staff and 100 army personnel.
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The announcement to set up this hospital was made by the health minister on March 31 of this year. The swift implementation of such an ambitious project within just two and a half weeks proves that given the situation, the government can be quite efficient and capable in meeting the challenges faced by it, which in the present circumstances is the continuous surge in Covid-19 casualties. It is unfortunate that another healthcare facility with a much bigger capacity, set up by the health ministry on the open space of the International Convention City Bashundhara(ICCB) on May 17, 2020, equipped with 2,031 general beds and 71 ICU beds, was shut down within just four months of its inauguration. The government cited "lack of patients" as the reason. Needless to say that had the ICCB hospital been in operation during the present second wave, many critical Covid-19 patients would have received the urgent treatment they needed there.
The respective authorities have to ensure that the same fate does not befall the DNCC hospital and that it functions properly, with enough supplies of both manpower and healthcare equipment. Also, as the current Covid-19 situation is not showing any sign of subsiding with more virulent variants leading to severe health complications and deaths, the government has to take further steps to establish a few specialised healthcare facilities dedicated solely for Covid-related treatment in other districts too, where healthcare facilities in general are grossly inadequate, to prevent further loss of lives.