With a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases and majority of infected persons opting for home quarantine, the number of vacant beds in government and private hospitals is increasing with every passing day, an official from the health department claimed. However, state Home Minister Vishwajit Rane said the government is not complacent as a "second wave" can be expected in November and December.
As on Friday, 405 out of 805 beds in government-run COVID-19 hospitals and private hospitals were vacant, the senior health official said. Private hospitals have reserved 72 beds for COVID-19 patients, of which 42 were vacant, while of 733 beds in government hospitals, 363 were not in use, he said.
Reacting to the phenomenon, Rane said, "The Goa government is witnessing empty beds in facilities set up for COVID-19 treatment, as home isolation has been introduced and infections have reduced." The minister, however, noted that just because beds are empty, it does not mean they will continue to remain so. "As the economy starts opening up and more people start coming to Goa, there is a possibility of a sudden spike and we should not be caught unawares," he said.
The state government has designated ESI Hospital in Margao, District Hospital (DH) in Margao, Sub District Hospital (SDH) in Ponda (all in South Goa) and Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) near Panaji to treat COVID-19 patients. The minister said all facilities and machinery decided by experts committee have been procured and ordered and are being placed in hospitals.
"As we go on opening up for November and December, we need to be more cautious. Few empty beds will continue, this is a decision of the experts committee and dean of GMCH and DHS. We should be ready for any kind of spike or second wave," he said. On October 24, 260 beds in government facilities were vacant, while the number rose to 319 on October 28, 338 on October 29 and 363 on October 30.
Beds are vacant in hospitals because of minute and micro-level home isolation done by the state government, Rane said. "I have given instructions to monitor patients in home isolation. We have also given instruction for digitalisation of records. We know the saturation of every patient and when we need to move him to a medical facility. We are following a unique model in Goa," he added.
As per the official data, Goa has recorded 43,416 COVID-19 cases, of which 40,409 patients have recovered so far and the recovery rate is at 93.07 per cent. Till Friday, 21,761 infected persons had opted for home isolation, while 11,612 have been hospitalised since the viral outbreak.
At least 602 people have succumbed to the infection so far in the coastal state, which currently has 2,405 active cases.