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Delhi: Hospitals to move asymptomatic patients out, make room for others

On Saturday, the city saw 186 fresh cases, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying none of them had shown symptoms of the disease — typically fever, cough or breathing difficulty.

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi | Published: April 20, 2020 12:40:40 am
Labourers receive food packets at Vasundhara in Ghaziabad on Sunday. (Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

As the total COVID-19 cases in Delhi touched 2,003 with 110 new cases on Sunday, asymptomatic patients have emerged as a significant worry for the Delhi government.

On Saturday, the city saw 186 fresh cases, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying none of them had shown symptoms of the disease — typically fever, cough or breathing difficulty. In Delhi, the highest number of patients are admitted at Lok Nayak, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality and AIIMS Jhajjar. In all three hospitals, most of the cases are asymptomatic, said experts.

In a press conference Sunday, Kejriwal said: “Many people are asymptomatic and when they do not stay at home, they infect others… In containment zones where people are following rules, the rate of infection is low.”

The death toll in the city touched 45 with two more people, a 70-year-old man and 71-year-old woman, succumbing to the illness.

At Lok Nayak, a dedicated COVID-19 hospital for patients, the administration has started transferring asymptomatic patients to different quarantine centres. There are three categories of patients: those with mild symptoms; those with moderate symptoms; and those with severe symptoms.

“Since we are a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, we are supposed to keep only the ones who have severe symptoms. The others are being sent to quarantine centres and discharged if they recover. We have 750 patients, and 560 of them (who are asymptomatic) will leave,” said hospital medical director Dr J C Passey.

Of the 560 patients, results of 70 have emerged negative for the virus in subsequent tests. “Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined for another 14 days. They will be discharged in a phased manner,” said Dr Passey.

Similarly, of the total 165 patients admitted at AIIMS Delhi and AIIMS Jhajjar, 96% are asymptomatic. “Only seven are symptomatic; two are on ventilator. Those who are asymptomatic do not require any medical intervention,” said Dr D K Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS.

At Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, there are 180 patients admitted, and 10-15 patients are symptomatic. “We will be shifting all asymptomatic patients to quarantine centres,” said a senior doctor.

Dr S K Sarin, who is heading the Delhi government’s panel on COVID-19 preparedness, said data from other countries shows that only 20% of those infected require hospitalisation. There are nine quarantine centres in Delhi and 912 people are admitted there. Of 32,192 people under 14-day home quarantine, 20,041 have completed it.

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