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Monday, July 06, 2020

Shortage of beds led to rise in death toll, admits Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

The CM listed out five “weapons” the government is using to fight the disease.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: June 28, 2020 2:28:53 am
Delhi: Covid-19 cases increased beyond expectation in last week of May, says Kejriwal A medic collects swab samples from a woman for COVID-19 test, at a government school in New Delhi, Friday. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Saturday that the speed at which the number of Covid cases had risen in the city was faster than the government had expected. Addressing a webcast, the CM said that initially, when not much was known about the virus and when the city did not have many testing kits, close to 35,000 people returned to Delhi from various countries.

“They were checked for fever and some of them were sent to quarantine. The others went home. This was when information about the virus was low. There weren’t enough testing kits or even labs. Then the lockdown was announced. People were staying in and the rate of transmission decreased. When the lockdown eased, we had expected a rise but they rose beyond our expectations,” he said.

Kejriwal said that by the first week of June, patients started struggling for beds. “Beds were in short supply in the first week of June. Testing was low and because they couldn’t get beds in time, more people were dying,” he said.

The city has seen a total of 77,240 cases and 2,492 deaths.

Kejriwal said that once cases started increasing, the idea of another lockdown was discussed. “We have to decide if we would shut down the city. We spoke to several people and decided that we will fight the virus but not lockdown the city,” he said.

The CM listed out five “weapons” the government is using to fight the disease.

“The first weapon was increasing the number of beds. Earlier, I used to get calls well into the night, where people would ask me to help arrange beds. I would try to help all night. We then ordered private hospitals to reserve 40 per cent of their beds and turned a few private and government hospitals into dedicated Covid facilities. Hotels were attached with hospitals. They were angry, they went to court but we fought and won, now, 3,500 beds are ready in hotels and the capacity of hospitals has been increased. The Radha Soami centre in Chattarpur has 10,000 beds and 2,000 have been made functional… We will not sit idle. We will make more arrangements,” he said.

He said the second weapon was testing and isolation.

“Initially, some labs gave out wrong results and we had to take action against them. In 1st week of June, we were doing 5,000 tests. Now we are doing 20,000 tests daily. Testing and isolation after that are key steps. I thank the Centre for giving us antigen kits and holding our hand,” he said.

Distribution of pulse oxymetres to people in home isolation and sending oxygen concentrators to people if their oxygen saturation levels drop, Kejriwal said was the third weapon, adding that soon all government hospital beds will have oxygen facilities.

Crediting plasma therapy and surveys and screening as the last two weapons, Kejriwal said that Plasma Therapy has been seen to work best on moderate patients and stops them from sinking further. He also said that 20,000 people are being screened as part of the serological survey in the city starting Saturday. The data will give a clear look at transmission rates.

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