06/11/2020, 15.29
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COVID-19 patients turned away by Dhaka hospitals

by Sumon Corraya

Patients who were not tested for the coronavirus are not being admitted. For health authorities, there is no shortage of beds. and people “turned away should file a complaint”. Some VIPs have reserved beds during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Many hospitals are turning away sick people on the pretext that they have not been tested for the coronavirus. Ruben Gomes was one of them.

The 75-year-old Catholic man fell ill in early June. His relatives took him to four Dhaka hospitals; all refused to admit him.

After going home to his village of Tumilia (Gazipur district) untreated, he died showing the symptoms of COVID-19. Subsequent tests confirmed the diagnosis.

For his relatives, Ruben would still be alive had he been hospitalised. His death is due to the negligence of the medical staff that turned him away.

Nymur Rahman, a Muslim from Dhaka, was luckier. He had fever, sore throat and cough. He was turned away from two hospitals in the capital because he had not been tested for COVID-19. His family treated him at home after buying a ventilator.

According to health authorities, people are not being turned away because of a shortage of beds or hospital facilities.

Dr Ayeshya Akter, assistant director at the Department of Health, points out that Bangladesh has 654 state-run hospitals with some 60,000 beds, plus 5,050 private hospitals with 100,00 beds.

What is more, “Hospitals cannot turn away patients,” Dr Akter explained. “People who come to a healthcare facility and are turned away should file a complaint with the authorities so that legal action can be taken.”

Bangladeshi pathologists note that the country has 447 intensive care units, 218 in the capital alone. Only ten per cent of people infected with the coronavirus need hospitalisation. Every day, around 700 infected people get better and go home.

According to the latest data, almost 79,000 cases have been reported with 1,012 deaths. Some 5,000 people are in hospital and 15,900 have recovered.

For several observers, the problem of hospital beds could be due to corruption. Dr Aminul Hasan, a director at the Directorate General of Health Services, suggests that many influential people have managed to reserve beds during the pandemic, thus reducing availability for those who really need it.

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