Requires a 9-fold hike in hospital beds, to 80,000; getting to that will be very difficult
The number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi will explode to 5.5 lakhs by the end of July even though the Centre says there is no community transmission in the capital, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia asserted on Tuesday, sounding a stark warning about the troubles ahead. With such a surge in numbers, Delhi will need 80,000 beds by July end, he told reporters after a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
Baijal’s office also rejected the AAP government’s criticism of his order overturning the decision to reserve some hospitals here only for Delhiites, saying “we are all Indians and Delhi belongs to all”. The matter had also triggered a fresh round of confrontation between the Centre and Delhi government. The reaction comes a day after Sisodia and the AAP had launched an attack on Baijal. Nearly 30,000 cases have been reported in the national capital.
The Delhi government on Tuesday did not issue its daily update on the number of coronavirus cases. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who underwent a COVID-19 test, tested negative. Sisodia said if the old growth rate of COVID-19 is taken into account, the doubling rate in Delhi is 12.6 days and almost all participants of the meeting agreed to this.
The fatality rate in Delhi is 2.92 per cent as compared to the national average of 2.81 per cent, recovery rate is 38 per cent, and test per million is 13,543 as compared to the national average of 3531 tests per million, the LG office said.
“Officials from the Centre said at the meeting that there is no community transmission of COVID-19 virus yet in Delhi and hence, there is no need of discussion on it,” Sisodia told the media after the meeting.
However, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the source of infection is “not known” in nearly half of the fresh cases being reported and epidemiologically, community transmission is the third stage of the infection.
He also blamed the Centre for the spurt in COVID-19 cases in the city, saying that operation of flights could have been delayed by 15 days.
When asked if Delhi has reached community transmission level as far as coronavirus infection is concerned, Jain said a declaration on this is made by the Centre. “Epidemiologically, community transmission is the third stage of the infection… In Delhi, of the new cases being reported, in nearly half of the cases, the source of infection is not known,” he said. Sisodia said the national capital may record 44,000 COVID-19 cases by June 15 and it would need 6,600 beds in hospitals.
“By June 30, there will be one lakh cases of coronavirus in Delhi and we will need 15,000 beds. “It is estimated that Delhi will record 2.15 lakh cases by July 15 and 33,000 beds would be required. There might be 5.5 lakh cases by July 31 and Delhi would need 80,000 beds,” he said.
Based on the doubling rate, 5.5 lakh cases are expected to be reported in Delhi by July 31, Sisodia said. Several scientists said community transmission of the disease may have started a while ago. They added that mathematical models of the progression of COVID-19 show it would be “possible” for Delhi to have 5.5 lakh cases by the end of July.
Sisodia said the AAP government is making all the preparations to handle the huge rush of patients estimated by June end. The lieutenant governor has refused to reconsider his decision to overrule the Delhi government’s order reserving state-run and private hospitals for Delhiites, the deputy CM said, adding the LG’s order has created a “major problem” in the national capital.
Sisodia had attacked the BJP on Monday after the LG rescinded the order of reserving state-run and private hospitals for Delhiities, alleging that he has been pressured by the saffron party which is doing “dirty politics” over the issue.
He said people living in Delhi also need beds during COVID-19 pandemic and in view of this, the Delhi Cabinet had recently taken the decision to reserve state-run and private hospitals for Delhiites. “The LG did not have any idea on numbers of COVID-19 cases and beds in Delhi once people from all over the country start coming to Delhi (for treatment),” Sisodia said.
In the DDMA meeting, nobody had an answer on availability of sufficient numbers of beds if COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the coming days in the national capital, he also said. “Who will take the responsibility if there are no beds? If people are coming from all over the country, beds available in Delhi will be occupied within three, four or ten days.
“As the LG has refused to reconsider his decision, we will try to serve the people of the country and Delhi as well. We will also try to expand medical facilities,” he added. Reacting sharply, the LG office also said rather than discriminating among patients, the goal of the government should be to plan and prepare for adequate infrastructure.
The Lt Governor is fully aware of the need to ramp up medical infrastructure, it said. “We are all Indians and Delhi belongs to all,” Baijal’s office said on Tuesday, responding to the AAP government’s criticism. “It is unfortunate that any responsible government should attempt to discriminate amongst patients on grounds of residence,” the statement said.
It is the responsibility of the state to provide universal healthcare to all patients coming to hospitals in accordance with constitutional provisions, it stated. To deal with the surge in the numbers, a panel constituted by the LG has also suggested that Pragati Maidan, Talkatora Indoor Stadium, Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium and JLN Stadium as makeshift COVID-19 facilities. The official said that the panel, constituted by Lt Governor Baijal, has also suggested using Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium and Dhyanchand Natio