Working Papers

Lessons from the Covid Care Centers in West Bengal

Jishnu Das
Patrick Agte, Abhijit Chowdhury, Parthasarathi Mukherjee, Satyarup Siddhanta

Centre for Policy Research

December 21, 2021

With the continuing emergence of Covid-19 variants, there is underlying concern in all countries, including India, that another surge will occur in the coming months. In case of a surge like that experienced with the Delta variant, a strategy that deserves further attention for the provision of care in rural areas is the use of off-hospital sites for patients who are not severely ill. We discuss one such effort from the state of West Bengal, the lessons from which may be relevant for the management of surge cases for generalized pandemic planning.

In March 2021, India experienced a large surge in Covid cases and the spike in patients led to a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen cylinders around the country. Following a notification by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that allowed organizations to set up care centers for the treatment of Covid-19 patients outside the hospital setting, the Liver Foundation and the Covid Care Network established eight Covid Care Centers in rural West Bengal. These centers were operational between May 2021 and September 2021, which coincided with the post-peak phase of the second Covid-19 wave in India. This report describes the project, summarizes the performance of the centers, and discusses the challenges faced during the project. We conclude that temporary facilities like the Covid Care Centers can be a viable option to provide urgent care during health emergencies.