Inside Mumbai’s BKC jumbo field hospital, a health worker adjusts the oxygen mask of a COVID-19 patient as doctors, nurses and specialists keep a close eye and monitor hundreds of sick people.
The pop-up mega hospital in India’s financial capital is mounted with tents and metal partitions and looks like a war room.
It has a capacity of more than 2,000 beds with state-of-the-art medical facilities, including intensive care units and beds with oxygen and ventilators. And it is mostly full.
Its doctors and nurses constantly monitor patients, holding the hands of some to calm them as they have problems breathing, or touching them to see how responsive they are.
In some cases, they help patients use a mobile phone to speak to family members, who are not allowed to visit.
India’s western Maharashtra state, home to Mumbai, is one of the country’s worst-hit states, grappling with a surge of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and made field facilities like BKC vital.
Maharashtra hit a peak at more than 68,000 daily cases last month, a number believed to be a significant undercount. It has since seen a decline in its declared new cases, reporting more than 37,000 infections during the latest week and 549 deaths.
Maharashtra, the country’s second-most populous state, has reported more than 5 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 75,000 deaths.
The BKC field hospital currently has 329 doctors and 330 nurses, said Dr Rajesh Dere, who is in charge of running the hospital. It has treated more than 22,600 COVID-19 patients since it was set up last May to provide free treatment and medicine.
“I think no hospital or very few hospitals could have managed at such a large scale,” Dere said.