Experts are of the opinion that easing of border tensions, lax attitude of people and aggressive testing are the reasons behind the spike in cases.
Coronavirus in Delhi: Heads of Delhi hospitals have been asked by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to increase the number of beds in ICUs as the national capital recorded over 4,000 cases for the second consecutive day. An IE report quoted Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain as saying that to assess the situation of coronavirus in the capital, a meeting was held, with the medical superintendents of all hospitals in attendance. Increasing the number of ICU beds was the main outcome, he added. Currently, more than 50% of the ICU beds with ventilators are occupied, the report stated.
On Thursday, Delhi reported over 4,300 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths due to the infection. With this, the total number of cases in the city has crossed 2.05 lakh, while the number of deaths stands at 4,666. Experts are of the opinion that easing of border tensions, lax attitude of people and aggressive testing are the reasons behind the spike in cases.
The report quoted ILBS chief and Delhi government’s first expert committee’s head Dr SK Sarin as saying that the 4,300 people who were COVID-19 positive were from a pool of 58,000 people who were tested. Earlier, 3,900 cases had emerged from a test pool of 15,000. Dr Sarin stated that when the numbers are looked at in relation to the number of people who are being tested, the situation does not seem as alarming. However, if this is looked at scientifically, the people of Delhi had been exposed to the virus in a similar manner earlier as well, Dr Sarin said. The Delhi sero survey found that around 23% of the population had antibodies, implying that the virus has already reached the community level in a way that there are more latent subjects than the detected ones. The doctor added that there is a chance the city might still be under testing, since more tests are being conducted using the rapid antigen technology, which has lower sensitivity. Thus, there could be more COVID-19 positive people than those tested.
The city has till now seen a little over 19.62 lakh tests, with 58,340 tests having been conducted on Thursday. Of them, 49,336 tests were done using rapid antigen, while only 9,004 were RT-PCR/CBNAAT/TrueNat tests. The Delhi government has taken several measures in the last couple of weeks to boost the testing in the city, the report added.
Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital medical director Dr BL Sherwal was quoted as saying that the rise in cases could simply be attributed to the higher number of tests being conducted. The doctor added that in June, the city had reported around 4,000 cases and Delhi had moved towards the rapid antigen tests, which was used for a large portion of the testing. Now, the state government has relaxed the RT-PCR testing criteria. Dr Sherwal added that the best approach would be to look at the mortality as well as the positive rate in the city. The positivity rate, the doctor said, mirrors that of the country, while the mortality rate has been stable. Delhi has a cumulative positivity rate of 10.47%, and the mortality rate in the capital stands at 2.27%, the report added.
Meanwhile, the health minister said that Delhi would continue to use plasma therapy, since the city has found it to be effective among the patients in stage one or two of the infection. The therapy has, however, not been found effective on patients in stage three or for those who are on ventilator support.
The corona app by the state government has shown that of the 1,212 ventilator-equipped ICU beds in the city, 688 are currently occupied. The rate of occupancy is more in the private sector, the report added, and top private hospitals in the city – Sir Ganga Ram, Fortis, Vasant Kunj, Max and Indraprastha Apollo – are fully occupied. As many as 79 private hospitals in the city are providing COVID-19 patients with critical-care facilities, and of them, 42 are full.
Moreover, even some government hospitals have limited vacant beds. Out of the 50 ventilator-equipped ICU beds in AIIMS Delhi, only five are currently vacant, while the RML has only two unoccupied beds out of 14.
AIIMS medical superintendent Dr DK Sharma was quoted by the report as saying that even as the number of cases have risen, the cases are not very severe, and many patients have opted to remain under home isolation. The mortality rate is also lower than where it stood a few months ago, Dr Sharma added.