The Covid surge in Delhi has mainly affected the younger population with most of the patients reporting “relatively milder symptoms”, according to AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria. But there is a need to remain vigilant, he said, because the infection can “spread to the elderly” and trigger “serious symptoms”, which would once again put healthcare resources under strain.
And, while some states are considering the option of imposing another lockdown, Guleria said that having more containment zones within a city would be a better strategy in containing the spread.
“As of now, most of the patients who are coming in are those with relatively milder symptoms but that is related to the fact that currently we are witnessing a surge in cases in the younger age group. But this will spread to the elderly, as has been seen in Maharashtra, where it started with milder cases and then we found an increasing number of cases, and more serious symptoms, with hospital resources getting strained. We need to be vigilant about this,” he said.
“There is an increase in the number of patients getting admitted but it’s not that we are running out of beds yet. As the cases go up, we will reach a situation where more and more patients will get admitted and that is the cause of concern,” he said.
Delhi has been witnessing over 1,500 daily cases over the past five days as a result of which the city is now in the top 10 across the country with a high burden of disease.
“This is another wave and it’s in our hands how big or small we want it to be, and how quickly we want it to end. In many ways, this is a situation we have got ourselves into. For some time now, the cases will increase because of the surge in the neighbouring states as well,” Guleria said.
“As we move into aggressive action, in terms of following Covid-appropriate behaviour, increasing testing, tracking and treatment, and developing micro-containment zones to see that cluster infections don’t spread to other parts of the city, we may be able to stabilise the number of cases and bring them down. But I don’t see that happening immediately,” he said.
On the effectiveness of lockdowns, he said: “Having a state lockdown is going to be difficult. I think the solution would be to identify the areas where there has been a sudden surge in the clusters and have a containment zone which can be like a localised lockdown. Test everyone in the area, treat and isolate them and make sure they don’t spread the disease to other areas.”
Guleria said this strategy has been followed in the past. “A similar kind of policy should be implemented because currently the cases are not as many as what we have seen in the past. So, if we identify the cluster and develop it into a containment zone, it can help us ensure that the infection doesn’t spread to other parts of the city,” he said.