As per an assessment by Niti Aayog, the situation in Delhi is unprecedented and with COVID-19 cases rising to 500 cases per million population, the situation could worsen in coming weeks. The assessment highlighted the violation of Covid norms during the festive season.
In view of a possible surge, the Centre has suggested urgently increasing bed capacity in Delhi, particularly ICU beds to around 6,431, to handle the rise to 500 cases per million. Currently, Delhi has 3,491 ICU beds of which 88% are occupied. The assessment was presented to a meeting convened by home minister Amit Shah and attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior central and state officials on Sunday.
Some of the 12 decisions taken have begun to roll out. Doctors and paramedical staff started arriving in Delhi on Monday to boost manpower at city hospitals treating Covid-19 cases, while 10,000 additional RT-PCR tests are set to augment the daily testing capacity starting Tuesday.
The home ministry on Monday held consultations with DRDO and others to add ICU beds and create more beds with oxygen facility at the 10,000-bed Covid facility manned by ITBP in Chhatarpur. “We hope to add 250 beds at the DRDO hospital in around four days,” a senior home ministry official said.
Guidelines on plasma therapy for treatment of Covid-19 patients, based on recommendations of a committee headed by Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul, will be issued on Tuesday, sources said. While 10,000 additional RT-PCR tests will take testing to around 28,000-29,000 a day, more will be added in a phased manner over the next few days as these tests are to be doubled.
“An unprecedented situation has emerged in Delhi and this is likely to become worse in the coming weeks,” Dr Paul said in the presentation. The estimates show there are around 9,839 isolation beds in Delhi with oxygen support. The Centre has suggested increasing this capacity to at least 10,630 to be able to tackle the current surge.
Around 75 central paramilitary doctors and 250 paramedics are being flown in from various states — Assam, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan — to Delhi and some have already arrived, the home ministry official said.
Interestingly, the presentation said trends in Haryana NCR districts were similar to Delhi, whereas those in Uttar Pradesh such as Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar were encouraging because of high level of testing.
Gurgaon and Faridabad – both in Haryana – are witnessing a significant rise in cases with positivity rates of around 20% and tests conducted per positive case being five. On the contrary, UP NCR districts have positivity below 5% and are conducting more than 30 tests per positive case. “This indicates high level of testing rates, coupled with contact tracing measures in UP NCR,” Paul said in his presentation.
Officials said gross violation of Covid-appropriate behaviour during the last few weeks while most people in Delhi are still susceptible to the viral infection and the deteriorating air quality, which is likely to continue like this till early March, are factors that could result in more cases in the coming weeks.
Delhi’s surge at 361 cases per million population has been bigger than other metros like Chennai (214), Mumbai (140) and Kolkata (63), the Niti Aayog assessment showed. Commensurate with the rising number of cases, the Centre has recommended at least 1-1.5 lakh tests per day in the Capital.
Home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, authorities of the Indian Council of Medical Research, DRDO, the Delhi government and the city’s municipal corporations held separate meetings through Monday for smooth implementation of the directives.