The Pandemic seems to be dragging on and so often we find ourselves turning to God and saying ‘how long?’ In the UK vaccination does appear to have broken the back of the pandemic but it is still rampant in many countries in the world. India was hit very hard by the second wave which reached a peak in April 2021. At that time, country-wide, there were official reports of over 400,000 new infections and over 4,000 deaths per day. I am sure these figures are a gross under-estimate of the truth since so many of the poor and under-privileged will not be included in the count.
CMC Ludhiana struggled during the second wave. It had been identified as the Covid hospital for Ludhiana and the institution was staggering under the number of referrals – not only from the Punjab but also from other states in North India [Himachel Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and even Uttar Pradesh and Delhi]. CMC managed to establish, equip and staff 65 level 3 [ITU] beds for Covid patients and 175 level 2 wards [non-invasive oxygen therapy]. This entailed considerable re-ordering of space in the hospital which included the complete relocation of Neurosciences. There was a separate out-patient department for suspected Covid patients. All non-urgent surgery was stopped by order of the State government so CMC lost the fees that would have come to them for routine surgery.
Over 2,000 patients were treated for Covid and 30,000 people in the community were vaccinated. Every member of the staff was vaccinated and it is great to report that no member of staff died from Covid during the surge in infections.
A proportion of the financial support for the Covid work came from some internal sources – the Commissioner of Police in Ludhiana and local industrialists. Some of their money has been used to build an oxygen generating plant on the campus which will shortly be commissioned. During the second surge, CMC had to rely on oxygen being transferred from a plant in Himachel Pradesh. The Indian Government partially financed patients transferred from the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana. The overseas ‘Friends’ in USA, Canada and Australia sent gifts and we at Friends of Ludhiana UK sent over £60,000 to help fund the work. We have continued to receive donations and will soon be in a position to forward more money to CMC. There is a clear expectation of a third surge of the virus since another variant of concern has been identified in India named ‘Delta Plus’ which may be more infectious than ‘Delta’. Only one case has so far been found in Ludhiana.
It is great to report that CMC received three awards for its remarkable work during the pandemic. One from the District Administration, another from the Director General of Police and a third one entitled ‘Punjab Puraskar Award’. There is no doubt that the performance of CMC during the Pandemic has greatly enhanced its standing in the local population.
Thank you to all those readers who have sent donations to Friends of Ludhiana. As I have said we are still happy to receive donations and we are able to guarantee that any such money will be used entirely to finance patient care in CMC.
Dr Keith R Hine MD FRCP
Chairman Friends of Ludhiana