Special COVID centers were shut down by States just before the second wave in India: Report
States, one after the other, had dismantled health infrastructure that was built up last year, just before the second wave began early this year. The sole reason for this ‘unfortunate’ and ‘grave mistake’ was the false belief that the pandemic is coming to an end amid dropping numbers of new Covid-19 cases.
Makeshift hospitals and facilities that were erected during firs wave of infections were brought down, contractual staff were relieved of their duties and key factors like ventilators and medical oxygen to build up healthcare infrastructure and ramp up facilities were neglected. The impact was that when second wave hit India in a more ferocious and devastating form, all the States were not prepared, similar in fashion as in first wave of Covid-19.
Centre, despite feeling a respite in Covid-19 situation across nation, did continue to extend advisories to all States and Union Territories about continuing to follow all COVID related protocols. It is to be noted that the ultimate decision around health is of state government. And the fact that State governments did let their guard down can’t be overlooked.
Currently, the dire circumstances in Delhi are chiefly concentrated around oxygen supply and beds shortage. A senior doctor from AIIMS said, “So what if these beds and oxygen cylinders were gathering dust. All the signs of an uptick were there and you could have saved lives if you didn’t have to waste precious time restarting them and looking for beds and cylinders.”
Delhi, the only state to have exhibited three distinct peaks last year, had four temporary facilities built up last year. The biggest of these which was situated in Chhattarpur with ability to house over 10,000 patients, was closed down in February this year. If the situation in national capital goes down same path as last year and aggravates further with increased struggle to find hospital beds, situation can be catastrophic and difficult to contain.
Similar is the situation in almost all the states. Maharashtra is the highest contributor of daily Covid-19 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh. These states being among the most populous states are witnessing difficult situation.