On Monday, 1,754 of the 4,269 active Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals across the city compared to 507 patients a month ago on December 3. On Tuesday, inpatient tally rose to 1,931. With this, nearly 14% of total beds in the state were occupied compared to 4% a month ago. At least 1,015 patients were occupying the oxygen beds in the city on Tuesday, as compared to 172 on December 3.
“We are not running out of beds, oxygen or doctors. But medical experts have told us that if cases continue to grow at this rate, the health system may be overwhelmed,” said state health secretary J Radhakrishnan.
“More people are occupying beds that have oxygen pipelines more as precaution than requirement,” said director of medical education Dr R Narayanababu, who administers all the government medical college hospitals in the state. “Admissions in both oxygen and nonoxygen beds have increased over the past few days in Chennai. However, most patients have mild symptoms and do not require oxygen therapy or ICU admissions,” he said. The oxygen requirement for medical college hospitals have in fact come down from 65.7 metric tonnes to 60.6 MT, he said.
Doctors from across the globe showed that the infections are mild, affecting the bronchi and not invading into the lungs. “The rate of infection may be much lesser, but if absolute numbers are phenomenally high even 0.5% hospitalisation can be a burden on the health system,” said WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan, who is on the state’s expert medical panel. Although occupancy in ICU and requirement for ventilators did not go up rapidly, doctors say the requirement for such admissions can be seen only after 7 to 10 days. “If more people with co-morbid conditions are infected, ICU admissions will increase too,” said Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, infectious diseases expert, Gleneagles Global Hospitals.
For the last one week, Chennai has added between 45-50% of the daily cases recorded by the state. While the city continues to see patients carrying the Delta variant, there is a community spread of Omicron variant too, said health minister Ma Subramanian.
New clusters emerging from city hospitals, workplaces and educational institutions have pushed up the test positive rate – number of people tested positive over total number of people tested — beyond 1%. The infection reproduction rate or R-naught has also crossed 1—an indication that the infection will increase, spreading through the population.