As early as March 26, a high-level panel had told top ministers of the Delhi government that once the number of Covid cases begins to spike, for every 100 hospital beds in the capital, 400 beds would be required in facilities such as hotels, banquets and dharamshalas.
These additional beds would be needed for patients showing mild symptoms of the disease, the panel had told a meeting attended by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Health Secretary Padmini Singla, and the heads of hospitals designated as Covid facilities at the time.
The recommendation made by the panel headed by Dr S K Sarin, Director of the Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences (ILBS), had come up at a meeting on “hospital preparedness” that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal chaired on April 3, official records show.
“Hon’ble Chief Minister reviewed the hospital preparedness in light of the report submitted by Dr S K Sarin, chairman of the committee constituted for hospital preparedness of Covid-19. It was explained that in this case of increase in the number of new patients per day for every 100 beds in the hospitals, 400 beds would be required in the facility outside hospitals for persons with minor symptoms of Covid-19 infection,” said the minutes of the meeting, signed by Special Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) S M Ali.
“As per the calculation in accordance with the report of Dr S K Sarin, for 2,500 hospital beds, the requirement of beds outside hospitals would be 10,000. The facilities outside hospitals may be created either in the hotels, dharamshala and banquet halls,” the minutes said.
It was only on May 29, nearly two months after the meeting chaired by Kejriwal, that the Delhi government passed an order identifying hotels that were to be attached to hospitals for patients infected by the novel coronavirus.
On June 1, district magistrates were asked to look for large spaces under their jurisdictions where Covid facilities could be set up.
One of the identified hotels, the five-star The Suryaa in southeast Delhi’s New Friends Colony, was inspected by the chief minister on Tuesday. The Suryaa is being converted into an extension of the Holy Family Hospital, a dedicated Covid facility with 175 beds, of which 100 are currently occupied.
As cases rise steeply, hospitals have been admitting patients with severe symptoms, and advising others to either quarantine themselves at home or go to the Covid care centres or Covid health centres meant for those with mild to moderate symptoms.
The Covid care centres in the capital have a capacity of 5,974, while the health centres, where facilities such as oxygen beds are available, can house 344 patients.
Delhi has so far 44,688 cases, of which over 25,000 remain active. A total of 16,500 individuals have been listed under the recovered/discharged/ migrated category, while 1,837 have died.
Of the 10,450 Covid beds available in hospitals, 5,463 are currently occupied. While 794 patients are in ICU, 197 are on ventilator support.
Over the past few days, the government has drawn up a list of 77 banquet halls where 11,229 beds can be put and 40 budget hotels that can together accommodate another 4,628 beds. It has also looked at a spiritual centre, which can house 10,000 beds on its premises.
The case count in Delhi is projected to reach 1 lakh by the end of this month, 2.5 lakh by July 15, and 5.32 lakh by July 31. Some 15,000 beds are expected to be needed by June 30, 33,000 by July 15, and 80,000 by July 31.
The CM has, however, said that after factoring in patients from other states, as many as 65,000 beds will be needed by July 15, and 1.5 lakh by July 31.
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