With the number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi crossing the 4,000 mark for the second day in a row, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked heads of hospitals to increase the number of ICU beds. “A meeting was held to assess the current Covid situation, which was attended by medical superintendents of all hospitals. The main outcome of the meeting was that the CM directed authorities to increase number of ICU beds,” Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. Over 50 per cent of ICU beds with ventilators are occupied at present.
The city recorded 4,308 new cases and 28 deaths Thursday, taking the total number of cases and deaths to 2,05,482 and 4,666 respectively. Experts who have been closely monitoring the situation attribute it to aggressive testing, lifting of border restrictions and laxity among people.
Dr S K Sarin, chief of ILBS and head of Delhi government’s first expert committee, told The Indian Express: “Out of 58,000 people tested 4,300 are positive. Earlier, there were 3,900 cases out of 15,000 tests. The number is not that alarming when you look at the total number of people tested. But if you look at it scientifically, the population of Delhi was similarly exposed to the virus even at that time. During the serological survey, antibodies were found in around 23% people. It reflects that the virus has already gone into the community, in a manner that we have more latent subjects than detected ones. I think we may still be under-testing as we are doing more rapid antigen tests. The technique has lower sensitivity, so you may have more people positive than the tested ones.”
So far, the city has performed 19,62,120 tests. In the last 24 hours, 58,340 tests — 9,004 RT-PCR/CBNAAT/TrueNat and 49,336 rapid antigen — were carried out. To boost testing, the state government has taken a series of measures in the last two weeks.
“The rise in cases can simply be attributed to increase in the number of tests. In June, when around 4,000 cases were reported, the city had moved towards RAT; this was used to test a large section of the population. Now, RT-PCR testing criteria have been relaxed by the state government. The best approach is to look at the positivity rate and the mortality rate. While the positivity rate of Delhi mirrors the national average, the mortality rate has remained stable,” said Dr B L Sherwal, medical director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital.
The cumulative positivity rate of the capital is 10.47% while the mortality rate is 2.27%.
Jain, meanwhile, said that plasma therapy will continue to be used in Delhi as it is proving to be effective on people who are in stage one or two of infection, but not in stage three or for those on ventilators.
The Delhi government’s corona app shows that 688 of 1,212 ICU beds with ventilators are occupied. The occupancy rate is higher in the private sector, with most top private hospitals like Max, Sir Ganga Ram, Indraprastha Apollo, Fortis, Vasant Kunj, fully occupied. In Delhi, 79 private hospitals are offering critical-care facilities to Covid patients, out of which 42 are full at the moment.
Some government hospitals also have a limited number of vacant beds. For instance, AIIMS Delhi has 50 ventilator beds in the ICU out of which 45 are occupied. Similarly, RML has only two vacant ICU beds of 14.
Dr DK Sharma, AIIMS medical superintendent, said: “While the number of cases and admissions has gone up, the severity of the cases is not high. Most patients are under home isolation. We should also look at the mortality rate, which is not as high as it was few months ago.”
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