Delhi government will approach the Supreme Court to seek a go-ahead to reserve 80% ICU beds in private hospitals for Covid-19 patients. The decision to reserve these beds was first taken in September, when cases had risen suddenly, which was stayed by the Delhi High Court.
On Wednesday, 6,842 cases were recorded in the city, the highest to date and the second time in as many days that the case count has been over 6,000. Active cases — 37,369 on Wednesday — are also at their highest mark.
“The Delhi government had increased the number of ICU beds in the city but, unfortunately, the Delhi High Court stayed our decision. We are moving the Supreme Court to urge it to vacate the stay,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
The move was opposed by hospitals, who said that other patients would suffer if these many beds are reserved for Covid patients.
Kejriwal also said the new surge could be called the “third wave” of the pandemic in the city. The previous peaks, government officials said, were seen in June and September. “Delhi has witnessed a jump in the number of Covid-19 cases. I think we can call it a third wave. We have been monitoring the situation continuously and there is no need to panic. We will take whatever steps are needed,” he said.
At present, there are 1,245 Covid ICU beds with ventilators in Delhi. Of these, 390 are vacant. There are 1,935 Covid ICU beds without ventilators, of which 529 are vacant. Most of these beds are available in government hospitals.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said this was because of two reasons. “One, many people who come from outside Delhi have heard the names of a few private hospitals where they want admission. Second, this time around, people from the middle and upper middle class are testing positive. “Earlier, Covid was spreading in congested areas. Now it is mostly in upper middle class areas. They can afford to go to private hospitals and many also have insurance policies they can use. The treatment protocol, however, is the same. In government hospitals, treatment is free, and anyone in need can go,” Jain said.
Asked why cases in Delhi had increased suddenly, whereas they were decreasing in many parts of the country, Jain said that people not wearing masks is a reason, along with high testing numbers and meticulous contact tracing.
“We are doing a large number of tests and are also doing very aggressive contact tracing. This could be why daily cases are high. About other places, I cannot comment,” he said.
The government, meanwhile, has started targeted testing in markets and crowded areas. The suggestion was made in a meeting with the union home secretary on Monday, where they also suggested targeted testing in restaurants and salons. “Targeted testing has started in market places and other densely crowded areas. This includes an increase in RT-PCR testing too,” Jain said.
The National Centre for Disease Control, in a report made public last month, said that the city could see up to 15,000 cases per day in winters.
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