'Percentage of virus patients needing hospital doubled'

COVID-19: Percentage of sick patients needing hospital care doubled in the last one month

Representative image/istock

In the last one month, the percentage of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care has nearly doubled, demonstrating how the coronavirus affects the vulnerable more.

On May 20th, nearly 3% of active cases needed oxygen support while another 3% needed intensive care units. About 0.45% of the infected persons needed ventilation.

Taken together, close to 6.5% of all COVID-19 infected individuals were seriously sick patients who required hospital care.

This number was 5% on May 13; 4.67% on May 9 and 3.82% on April 26. So with more people being tested for the virus, the percentage of people requiring ICU, oxygen and ventilators has doubled, shows a back of the envelop calculation of the Union Health Ministry data.

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"This suggests that the disease is affecting the vulnerable such as elderly and high risk persons with co-morbidities, more. This is happening because the disease is spreading beyond what is amenable to containment,"  Giridhara R Babu, professor at the Public Health Foundation of India told DH.

If compared on absolute numbers, the jump is nearly five fold - from less than 800 individuals on April 26 to nearly 4,000 on May 20.

However, it's not an entirely accurate comparison as the number of persons tested for novel coronavirus grew manifold in those four weeks increasing the testing base.

"It is like a funnel. As the base volume increases, the ones coming through the funnel are the more serious and sick ones. When we have more sick persons in the hospitals the number of people with hypoxia, needing ventilators is higher," said Oommen John, a senior public health researcher at the George Institute for Global Health, India.

"Also there have been changes in criteria for hospitalisation. The mild cases are now being advised to be at home. The more sick ones are staying at hospital because they need oxygen or ventilators," he said.

India currently has 63,624 active cases whereas 45,299 patients have been cured, according to a statement released by the health ministry.

As many as 3435 persons have died due to COVID-19, of which more than 50% are above 60 years of age. Another 35% are in the age bracket of 45-60 years.

Further, 73% of the death cases had underlying co-morbidities.

Earlier this week, Union Health Minister Harsh Bardhan claimed that there were nearly 30,000 dedicated ICU beds in India for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.