At least four hospitals in Kolkata have converted all Covid beds into non-Covid ones as no patient with the disease has been admitted for several days.
A few other hospitals said one or two persons were still testing positive for the disease and seeking admission every now and then.
The state government, too, has reduced the number of beds.
On Tuesday, Bengal reported 34 new Covid cases across the state. The count was 12 on Monday, according to the health department.
The RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences has no Covid bed since April 1, said officials of the hospital. “No Covid patient has been admitted in our hospital for the past 10 days. In the last 25 days, the Covid test positivity rate at our laboratory has been zero, too. So we have decided to convert all Covid beds into non-Covid ones,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, which runs the RN Tagore hospital.
The hospital has four isolation beds in the emergency ward. “If any Covid patient turns up, we can keep him or her in that unit of the emergency ward. If required, we can set up a Covid unit within a couple of days because of the experience gained during the pandemic,” he said.
The AMRI Hospitals, too, had converted all Covid beds into non-Covid ones at all three units of the group — in Dhakuria, Mukundapur and Salt Lake. However, two patients admitted in ICUs had tested positive.
“We had zero Covid patients 20 days back but then these two patients tested positive. Now they have tested negative and for the last five days we again have zero Covid beds,” said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI.
He said three isolation beds had been kept at each of the three units.
Doctors said since most hospitals have not yet reached full capacity in terms of admitting non-Covid patients, there is no need for keeping beds reserved for Covid patients.
“As long as there is a contingency plan, we can have zero Covid beds. The current government guidelines say there is no need to keep a Covid patient in a separate ward. The patient can be kept in a room not shared by any other patient. So things have become easier now,” said Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious disease expert at Peerless Hospital.
“However, once the hospitals start running in almost full capacity, it would be wise to earmark some beds for Covid.”
Belle Vue Clinic did not have any Covid patient admitted for several days till a patient with some Covid symptoms tested positive in an RT-PCR test a week ago.
“Since every now and then a Covid patient is still coming to the hospital, we are unable to do away with Covid beds altogether. A five-bed unit is still there. It will be there for some time,” said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue.
Some other hospitals, too, want to continue with a few Covid beds for some time because patients testing positive for the disease are still turning up.
“We have a four-bed unit at our hospital although there has been no Covid patient for the last 25 days,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital. The unit has a general bed as well as critical care facilities.
The state government, too, wants to wait before deciding to disband the remaining Covid beds, officials in the health department said.
According to the department’s data, 53 Covid patients are admitted at hospitals across the state.