In a move to free up beds in private hospitals occupied by patients who do not need hospitalisation, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday announced that it would be converting four- and five-star hotels into Covid care centres or ‘step-down facilities’. The BMC officials say that the move was necessitated after they found that beds in private hospitals were being occupied by patients who did not require medical intervention and could be adequately managed at isolation or ‘step-down facilities’.The decision comes in the backdrop of the massive spike in Mumbai’s Covid-19 tally which has severely strained the city’s health infrastructure. Bed-occupancy rates in Mumbai have already crossed 80 per cent, with more than 98 per cent Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and ventilator beds fully occupied.Mumbai has been adding thousands of cases per day and the current active caseload of the city is at 85,494. BMC officials said that the really sick and needy patients were not getting admission to private hospitals, as the beds in private hospitals were already occupied by people who were Covid-positive but did not require medical intervention. BMC chief Chahal explained that the civic body found that although the oxygen levels and other parameters of some patients in private hospitals were normal, yet these people had procured beds for themselves, creating a shortage of beds for those who were in urgent needy and severely ill.The BMC, along with private hospitals, would identify four- and five-star hotels, having a minimum of 20 rooms and convert these to a ‘step-down facility’ (one rung lower than a hospital). The BMC has said that those who did not require oxygen, ICU or ventilators in private hospitals could be shifted to these step-down centres.