Over the past week, confusion over the institutional isolation of Covid patients above the age of 60 and those who have comorbidities has persisted in the city. While the government has said these patients are allowed home quarantine if the team of doctors that assesses them gives them clearance, at least two districts in Delhi were following different norms.
Southwest Delhi passed an order on September 21, stating that all Covid patients who have comorbidities or are above the age of 60 will have to be admitted in Covid Care Centres or Covid Health Centres. The order was withdrawn Sunday, hours after The Indian Express enquired about the difference in guidelines.
The order passed by the office of the district magistrate of Southwest Delhi had said, “All SDMs in coordination with medical officer in-charges (MOIC) and local police shall ensure that all Covid-19 positive cases having age more than 60 years or Covid-19 positive cases with co-morbidities have been shifted to CHC/CCC (Covid Health Centres/Covid Care Centres). Non-compliance of the order shall be viewed seriously.”
District DM Rahul Singh said the order was withdrawn Sunday owing to “inconvenience”. “We had passed the order keeping in mind the risk faced by these two groups and that ICU beds were filling up fast in the city. We decided to withdraw the order after people said it was causing inconvenience. A lot of people would resist the decision to shift to institutional care. We did not want to cause inconvenience,” he said.
West Delhi, too, is following the same template, though officials said no written orders had been passed. The decision, the official said, was taken to make sure that no deaths took place under home isolation since both these categories of patients are most at risk.
According to data provided by the Delhi government, between the first week of March, when the Capital reported its first Covid case, till September 23, a total of 41 Covid patients under home isolation have died.
In this period, the highest number of active Covid patients under home isolation — 3,077 — was in West Delhi, followed by 2,261 in Northwest Delhi and 1,844 in Southwest Delhi. The highest number of Covid deaths in home isolation was in Northwest Delhi (11), followed by West Delhi (9) and Central Delhi (8).
Mandatory shifting of patients to these centres had previously been the cause of friction between the elected government and the L-G, who had ordered in June that all those who test positive must be first sent to a Covid Care Centre for a period of at least five days. After objections were raised by the government, the order was reversed and patients who were cleared by a team of doctors were allowed to isolate at home. The Delhi government then decided to provide pulse oximeters to those under home isolation to check oxygen saturation levels and report to hospital or call an ambulance if the levels dip. At present, there are 8,137 beds in Covid Care Centres. Of these, 3,763 are vacant and 1,402 are occupied by those under institutional quarantine after taking international flights. There are 527 beds available in Covid Health Centres, of which 193 are vacant.
On Sunday, meanwhile, 3,292 cases were recorded as number of tests done fell from an average of around 59,000 per day to 51,000. The toll rose to 5,235 as 42 people were reported dead. 46 Covid patients had died on Saturday. The doubling rate in the city is around 50 days, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. “The number of deaths and cases will come down in the coming weeks,” he said.
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