Patna: Amid fears about a likely third wave of COVID-19, there is panic among parents of hundreds of children, especially in rural areas, suffering from viral fever across Bihar. As a result, children are being rushed for treatment at government-run hospitals.
Paediatric wards in most government hospitals are overcrowded and paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) beds are nearly full. This has created a big challenge for the authorities of the hospitals to admit and treat fresh cases because parents of the children affected by viral fever are rushing in large numbers to hospitals because of the fear of Covid-19.
The situation is posing a challenge for four major government-run hospitals in Patna -- All India Institute of Medical Sciences- Patna (AIIMS Patna), Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) and Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences(IGIMS) – that are crowded with cases of children suffering from viral fever.
Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in Darbhanga, Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JLNMCH) in Bhagalpur and Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH) in Gaya district are facing a similar situation.
In the past week, viral fever cases among children have spread in a dozen of Bihar's districts, including Patna, Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Gopalganj, Saran, East Champaran, West Champaran and Gaya.
In Patna, over 300 children are undergoing treatment at different hospitals. At the PMCH, 30 new cases were admitted in the past 24 hours. “At present, children suffering from viral fever have been admitted on 155 of 190 PICU and NICU beds in the paediatric ward of the PMCH,” Dr IS Thakur, medical superintendent of PMCH, told reporters.
All 84 beds in the paediatric unit of NMCH, including 22 beds of NICU, 15 of PICU, and eight in the paediatric emergency and nearly 90% of paediatric units at AIIMS Patna, are full.
Dr Gopal Shankar Sahni, head of the department of paediatrics at SKMCH, told NewsClick on Thursday, "Children are suffering from viral bronchiolitis (respiratory disease), a common disease among 2-6-month-olds. This is not a new disease. It usually occurs in winter. There is no need for panic, the situation is under control and the fear of COVID is baseless and far from the truth."
Sahni said that as of September 9, there were cases of 50-60 children with viral bronchiolitis, out of the 100 admitted in his hospital's PICU, which has a capacity of 102. He said 10 children suffering from viral bronchiolitis were being admitted to SKMCH on an average daily since last week. However, children suffering from other diseases, including seasonal fever, are also coming in large numbers.
Dr BS Jha, superintendent of SKMCH, said most of the children admitted were suffering from viral fever, respiratory disease and influenza. "It is 100% viral fever with several symptoms like cough, body pain and respiratory problems," he told NewsClick.
Jha said that as SKMCH was the only advanced medical facility equipped to treat serious cases in the district and neighbouring districts, children who are critical from places like Siwan, Gopalganj, Sitamarhi and East Champaran were admitted to the PICU ward of the hospital.
All the beds at the emergency pediatric unit of the JLNMCH are also full of children suffering from viral fever. ”We have found that 82 of the 95 children examined at paediatrics outdoors on Wednesday were suffering from viral fever'', Dr Anil Kumar said.
In DMCH, the pediatric ward of the 76 beds was overcrowded. The situation is more and less similar in ANMMCH.
Meanwhile, at least three children died at Sirsa Khemkaran Tarapur village under Amnaur block in Saran district in the past four days, with villagers claiming that nearly 60 children in the village were suffering from “fever”. Saran Civil Surgeon Dr Sukumar Prasad confirmed that children have been suffering from fever and a medical team was camping there for treatment.
In Gopalganj district, one child reportedly died after suffering from ‘viral’ fever, forcing the Saran district administration to cancel the leave of all doctors and medical staff.
In view of the rising cases of viral fever among children in several districts, Bihar State Health Society executive director Sanjay Kumar Singh said the government had alerted all medical college hospitals, district hospitals and primary health centres.
“We have directed the officials concerned to give priority to the treatment of children suffering from viral fever. The government has also sent three teams of specialist doctors to Muzaffarpur, Siwan and Gopalganj to provide proper treatment," Singh added.