After the Centre’s guidelines allowed asymptomatic patients and those with very mild symptoms to self isolate at home, their number in Delhi is now higher than those admitted in the 11 Covid-designated hospitals. While there are 1,772 people admitted in hospitals, 2,250 are under home isolation.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi touched 10,000 on Monday, with 299 fresh cases being recorded. No new deaths were seen in the past 24 hours but the toll rose to 160 — up from 148 on Sunday — as the government recorded deaths that occurred a few days ago as their death summaries were prepared.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that while the number of cases was rising, it was heartening that the recovery rate was also high. Of the 10,054 cases reported so far, 4,485 have either recovered or been discharged from hospitals.
Out of the 1,772 still admitted, 160 are in ICU and 22 on ventilator.
Change in protocol
Overburdened mortuaries and most dead bodies testing negative for Covid-19 appear to have prompted the Delhi government to stop collecting test samples after a person’s death, even if he or she is suspected to have succumbed to coronavirus.
In an order issued by the Delhi Health Secretary Padmini Singla Sunday, the Delhi health department said, “No sample for Covid-19 test will be taken of dead body. However, if doctors are satisfied from clinical examination that the cause of death may be Covid-19 infection, the dead body may be released as suspect Covid-19 infected dead body.”
However, in case of a suspected Covid death, the cremation or burial will be performed as per the standard operating protocol.
“The bodies were piling up at our mortuary as we waited for test results. In most cases, test results were coming out negative,” said a senior doctor from Lok Nayak, a Covid-designated hospital.
Dr N N Mathur, medical director of Lady Hardinge Medical College, said: “Before the order, we were testing all bodies. But since the new guidelines have come up, we will no longer do so. If any deceased has come from a containment zone, we will treat it as a Covid suspected case and the autopsy will be waived off as per rules. Whether it will be treated as a Covid death or not, that is to be decided by the state government.”
Dr Sumant Sinha, medical superintendent of Aruna Asaf Ali hospital, said: “There was no point in keeping the bodies at the mortuary because most of them tested negative only.”
However, the Centre-run AIIMS will continue to take samples from dead bodies. “At our hospital, we take the samples from the dead body, and then it is handed over to the family…. In most cases, the report comes out negative,” said Dr D K Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS, which has reported 29 Covid deaths so far.
A Delhi government spokesperson said: “If there is a suspicion that the person died of Covid, family members are being tested. We have expanded the testing net considerably now. When we tested samples taken from bodies, a majority of them were negative for the virus. The number of bodies in mortuaries was rising because samples had not been taken.”