At first glance, the numbers tell a scary story — of Delhi surpassing Mumbai to become the city with the highest Covid-19 cases in the country. And the fact that a third of the capital’s 70,390 cases have been recorded in the past week.
A closer look at the capital’s evolving Covid response, though, suggests that the surge in cases is closely tied to significantly increased testing — 1.08 lakh tests, more than a fourth of the total, have been conducted in the corresponding period. So far, the city has tested over 4.2 lakh people using the RT-PCR as well as rapid antigen testing kits.
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The number of hospital beds has also increased in the past two weeks — from 8,800 on June 10 to 13,400 on Tuesday.
The biggest push on this front has come in the form of private hospitals being ordered to set aside at least 20% beds for Covid patients. The government’s five-member committee to look into preparedness had said that the city will need 15,000 beds by June 15 to cater to patients within the city. At present, of the 13,400 beds across hospitals, 6,203 are occupied.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while visiting a banquet hall which has been turned into a 100-bed facility with oxygen support for moderately-ill patients, said that while there was no clear picture on what will happen in the days to come, Delhi was in a comfortable situation in terms of hospital beds.
“On Tuesday, there were 6,200 patients in hospitals. On Wednesday, the number remained similar. At present, we don’t know what the future holds; we have sufficient beds to cater to patients,” he said.
According to Delhi government officials, the city’s focus is not on cumulative cases. “We have, for at least a month now, been focused on care for serious patients and making sure help reaches whoever is in need on time. We always knew that as soon as the testing figures go up, so will overall cases. But if you are quarantined in your home and have no or mild symptoms, you will be fine,” said a senior district administration official.
The city is expected to add another 2,000 beds in a care facility at the Radha Soami grounds in Chattarpur by Friday — a rare instance of the Centre and state collaborating. Once fully operational, the facility will have 10,000 beds.
The biggest challenge for the government, though, is to get doctors and nurses, and staff to help with contact tracing.
“We need to get more personnel or important jobs such as contact tracing and screening will suffer, potentially leading to a cluster of cases,” said a district magistrate.
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