On late Wednesday evening, the AAP government’s health bulletin underscored a grim milestone: the total coronavirus cases in Delhi had breached the 70,000-mark. The city overtook Mumbai and became India’s new pandemic epicentre.
On Tuesday, Delhi had reported 3,947 cases – the steepest single-day spike for any city or state in the country. For that one day, the city fared worse than even some of the global hotspots like Brazil’s Sao Paulo (2,483), Chile’s Santiago (2,469) and Peru’s Lima (1,906). Mumbai’s positivity rate (confirmed cases among tests conducted) was, however, 23.2%, which is higher than Delhi’s 16.7 %. Delhi has seen fewer deaths (2,429) than Mumbai (4,060).
Delhi has seen 3,000 plus daily cases on all days, except one (2,909 on June 22), since June 19.
With 3,390 new cases and 64 deaths on Thursday, total infections in Delhi reached 73,780 including 2,429 deaths.
Delhi’s share in the country’s cases has increased from 10% on May 25 to 15.6 % Thursday.
During the same one-month period, the Capital’s deaths in total fatalities of the country increased from 7% on May 25 to 16.3%. By the AAP government’s own admission, at the present doubling rate (about 13 days), Delhi will have 1,00,000 cases by June-end and 5,50,000 by July-end.
BRACING FOR IMPACT
With the surging case overload, the focus of the Centre and the Delhi government has now shifted to building big Covid care centres. Make-shift hospitals in hotels, banquet halls and railway coaches are also being set up.
During his visit to Shehnai Banquet Hall, now a 100-bed Covid care facility for moderately-ill patients, CM Arvind Kejriwal said, “People who are getting infected are majorly recovering at their homes. The numbers of new cases and recoveries are the same. We have 13,500 beds. Many more banquet halls will be readied,” he said. Of the 73,780 people infected so far, 44,765 have recovered.
And of the 26,586 active patients, 15,159 are under home isolation.
As per information on the Delhi government’s mobile application, of the 13,239 hospital beds available on Thursday, 6,285 were occupied and 6,954 vacant.
On June 10, Kejriwal had said that, Delhi would need 1,50,000 beds by July 31 for Covid-19 patients. The statement came a day after his deputy, Manish Sisodia, projected 5,50,000 lakh cases by July 31 requiring 80,000 beds. Kejriwal had doubled the number of beds considering half the patients in Delhi hospitals would be from outside.
Shehnai Banquet Hall is the first to operate among 77 that the Delhi government has selected to be converted into makeshift hospitals. In all, the government plans to augment the number of beds by 15,800 by using 40 hotels, apart from 77 banquet halls.
“In the last week, we had installed around 3,000 beds in hotels, which were then attached to private hospitals,” the CM said on Wednesday. In the past two weeks, the number of hospital beds has increased from 8,800 on June 10 to over 13,200 on Friday. This includes 22 private hospitals that have been asked to reserve at least 20% beds.
Also, the Delhi government’s upcoming hospital in Burari will have 450 beds for Covid-19 patients. The government is expected to add 500 more ICU beds at its Lok Nayak Jai Delhi’s New Corona
Fighting ‘Arenas’ Prakash (LNJP) Hospital by July 10. The 2000-bed Covid-19 hospital has 80 ICU beds.
ITBP AND ARMYTO RESCUE
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has been given the responsibility to operate the 10,000-bed Covid-19 centre at Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus in South Delhi’s Chhatarpur. Roughly of the size of 22 football fields, the facility is being billed as the biggest in the country so far. At least 2,000 beds are expected to be operational today, while the rest will become operational early next month.
The facility has led to a credit war of sorts between the Centre and the Delhi government as well.
“Dear Kejriwal ji, It has already been decided in our meeting 3 days back and MHA has assigned the work of operating the 10,000 bed Covid Care Centre at Radha Swami Beas in Delhi to ITBP. The work is in full swing and a large part of the facility will be operational by 26th Jun (SIC),” Shah said in a tweet.
His counter came after the Delhi CM wrote to him for deployment of doctors and nurses from ITBP and Army. The Home Minister has lately taken charge to prep Delhi for the expected spike in Covid-19 cases. He has also announced that a new 1,000-bed full-fledged hospital with 250 ICU beds to be manned by Armed forces personnel will be ready in the Capital in the next few days.
“DRDO and Tata Trust are building the facility. Armed forces personnel will man it. This Covid Care centre will be ready in next 10 days,” he said. Also, of the 503 isolation coaches at nine railway stations of the Capital, the ones kept at Shakurbasti started operating on Wednesday. These facilities by the Railways will provide at least 8,000 beds for Covid patients with mild symptoms, said officials. The operation of these coaches is a joint effort of three agencies – Railway for basic infrastructure, Army for doctors, nurses and ambulances and coordination with hospitals for medicine and equipment by the Delhi government.
CIVIC BODY HOSPITALS
The BJP-run civic bodies of Delhi said that seven hospitals, with more than 2,800 beds collectively, can be used by the Delhi government. The North, East and South civic bodies together run eight hospitals.
Two hospitals – Hindu Rao with 980 beds and Tilak Nagar Super Speciality Hospital with 70 beds – have been converted into Covid-19 facilities. While Tilak Nagar Hospital in South Delhi has been taken over by the Delhi government, Hindu Rao in North Delhi is expected to be taken over soon.
“Preparation is taking some time. We will soon be ready to admit Covid-19 patients,” Dr Anu Kapur, the hospital’s medical superintendent.
The government has decided that it would hire final-year students of post-graduate medical courses, as well as final year undergraduate and postgraduate nursing students, for deployment in hospitals. The Capital has 17,996, doctors, 43,800 nurses, 27,000 pharmacists, 2,500 MBBS students, according to a government portal on Covid-19.
Experts said government should come up with a longterm plan, “Home Ministry fixing the prices of tests and hospitals, fixing the quarantine duration, it only leads to confusion. The current state is a result of poor investment in healthcare infrastructure. Railway coaches can’t be used to treat Covid patients. Invest in long-term solutions,” said Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T, General Secretary, Resident Doctors Association, AIIMS told Mail Today recently.
(With inputs from Rukmini S and Chayyanika Nigam)