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Drop in referral of kids from districts to government hospitals in Kolkata

Health boss cites training for trend; formation of an eight-member task force announced on Friday

Subhajoy Roy | Published 13.03.23, 06:48 AM
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Representational image

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The number of children with respiratory infections being referred to Kolkata’s hospitals from districts has witnessed a drop compared with the figures two or three weeks ago, officials in the state health department and hospitals said on Sunday.

But many hospitals are still reporting deaths among children with respiratory infections.


The state’s director of health services, Siddhartha Niyogi, said the number of referrals had gone down by nearly 60 per cent. The number of admissions in hospitals across the state has declined by about 10 per cent, he said.

For a few days now, three or four children with respiratory infections referred by hospitals in districts are being admitted to the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital daily.

About two weeks ago, around 10 such children were being admitted to the hospital daily.

Dr BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences, the premier government-run referral hospital for children in West Bengal, has also witnessed a drop in the number of such children being admitted.

Health department officials attributed the drop to three factors — drop in the overall infection among children, repeated prodding to the hospitals in the districts to stop unnecessary referrals and training doctors in districts in treating children with respiratory infections.

“We fixed some problems and also trained many doctors over the last few weeks. This has helped in reducing the number of referrals,” said Niyogi.

The state has over the past few weeks been in the grip of viral infections, which have claimed the lives of a number of children. Multiple child deaths have been reported from BC Roy hospital and Calcutta Medical College.

Health department officials and relatives of children admitted to hospitals said each bed was being shared by two or more patients because of high number of admissions.

Officials repeatedly stressed the need to reduce the burden on Dr BC Roy hospital. They said the hospital was being flooded with patients much beyond its capacity. “With so many children cramped in a ward, there is always a high risk of cross-infection,” said an official.

The state government had on Friday announced the formation of an eight-member task force for the “control of Adeno Virus and treatment of affected persons”.

The task force will “meet at regular intervals and supervise/oversee the arrangements for the treatment of affected persons in different hospitals and other aspects related with control of the disease”.

The adenovirus was found in a large number of swab samples of children with respiratory infections. According to ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, of the 1,708 samples tested between January 1 and March 9, 650 were positive for the adenovirus. The majority of the positive samples had a hybrid of type 3 and 7 of the virus.

Other viruses detected include influenza, rhinovirus and non-Covid coronavirus, said officials.

Doctors say these viruses transmit through cough and sneeze. Measures to prevent infection are same as those adopted for the Covid virus — wearing masks in crowded places, washing or sanitising hands frequently and staying away from elderly and children if one has symptoms.

A statement issued by the state government on Friday mentioned that 10,999 children had to be admitted to hospital with acute respiratory infection. The statement did not mention the period when the children were admitted. It also said there were 654 PICU beds across the state, of which 402 were unoccupied.

At Dr BC Roy hospital, however, a number of critically ill children with respiratory infections are still undergoing treatment. An official said all PICU beds at the hospital were occupied.

Last updated on 13.03.23, 06:48 AM

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