If you have been following the Karnataka Health Department’s COVID-19 bulletins, you may have noticed a significant change from last week to this – the jump in the number of patients in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) in Bengaluru Urban district. While the jump in the number can seem alarming, it is closer to reality. On April 26, 2021, TOI published a report which pointed out that the health bulletin had been significantly under-reporting ICU numbers in Bengaluru. Chethan Kumar tracked the daily occupancy of ICU beds since April 19, and found that the number reported on the bed tracker dashboard was thrice as high as what was reported by the Health Department’s bulletin.
After the report, the Health Department appears to be reporting numbers more accurately. To compare, TNM tallied numbers from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) bed tracker (https://bbmpgov.com/chbms/) and the Health Department’s bulletin for April 26, 27 and 28. It should be noted that the bed tracker has data from government hospitals, government medical colleges, private hospitals (government quota COVID beds), private medical colleges (government quota COVID beds), and government COVID Care Centres (CCC). CCCs do not have ICUs. The bulletin does not segregate ICU and ICU ventilator data, but gives the total number of ICU beds in use.
TNM checked the bed tracker data on the three given days at between 6.45 pm to 7 pm, and compared it with the number of ICU beds reported occupied in Bengaluru in the next day’s bulletin – this is because April 27 bulletin would reflect data from the previous day, while the bed tracker has live information. Here is what we found.
There is still some discrepancy in data, but perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that the tracker is updated more often. This difference in numbers is much lesser though, compared to earlier. According to the TOI report, for instance, 788 ICU beds were occupied in Bengaluru by coronavirus patients, compared to the figure in the health bulletin – 259.
Among the other southern states, while Tamil Nadu has a bed tracker, the state government’s bulletin does not provide daily ICU bed occupancy. Only Kerala provides both – however, the issue here seems to be the opposite of Bengaluru. In Kerala, the bed tracker seems to not have updated information, and shows over twice as less ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients as the daily bulletin with information for that day.
For example, on April 26, 771 patients were using ICU beds, including COVID-19 patients and those on ventilators. However, per the Health Department’s bulletin, 1,506 ICUs were occupied by COVID-19 patients alone, and 488 were on ventilators. Similarly, while the bed tracker showed 765 ICUs in use on April 27 evening, the Health Department’s numbers showed that 1,529 COVID-19 patients had been recorded being in ICUs, and 535 were on ventilators. For April 28, 792 patients were in ICU per the tracker, while the bulletin showed 1,652 COVID-19 patients in ICU and 577 on ventilator.