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COVID-19: How AAP government is defeating the pandemic in Delhi

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Selhi, July 10: COVID-19, one of the biggest health crisis faced in recent times has thrown life out of gear. In the midst of the pandemic, the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP government took several measures in Delhi and today the results can be seen.

The nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 helped contain the spread of the virus, but it also brought with it other socio-economic crises.

COVID-19: How APP government is defeating the pandemic in Delhi

Unlock 1.0, announced by the Central Government, which started on June 1 did begin to pick up the economy, but brought with it difficulties for Delhi. In the first week of June, Delhi started witnessing a rising number of cases, a rising number of deaths and because of these a rapidly rising panic amongst the citizens of Delhi.

However a month later, each of these seems to have plateaued. Let us take look at how the AAP government is taking steps to defeat the virus.

Controlling the number of cases:

The key to controlling the number of cases is a strategy of aggressive testing and isolation. Only if COVID positive patients and their high-risk contacts can be isolated and quarantined, can the spread of the disease be reduced.

Home Isolation and its awareness drive:

The Delhi Government aggressively promoted Home Isolation of COVID-positive patients who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. These constitute almost 80% of all COVID-positive cases. After a visit of a medical team to their homes explaining Home Isolation, regular monitoring and guidance was done with daily phone calls from healthcare workers. This meant that patients could recover in the comfort and emotional security of their homes. Their family members could also be quarantined in the same house for 2 weeks and this ensured that they did not become spreaders.

Aggressive testing and Isolation:

Delhi was following a strategy of high testing from the very start. Even before the end of June, Delhi was testing more than any other state in India at about 10,500 tests per million on May 31. Once the stigma around being a Corona patient was successfully reduced, it was possible to further ramp up testing.

From the first week of June, a strategy of aggressive testing was started, with a focus on areas that were becoming hotspots. In the first week of June, Delhi Government was conducting 5,500 tests per day. With the help of Centre's support in providing antigen test kits, by mid-June, this figure stood at 11,000 tests per day and by the first week of July at 21,000 tests per day.

Rapidly increasing hospital beds:

Till early June, there were only 8 private hospitals that were treating Corona patients and these had total of 700 beds available. This was in addition to 2500 beds in Delhi Government hospitals. When the cases started rising in the first week of June, the aforementioned 8 private hospitals reached their capacity and when patients reached some of these hospitals they found no beds available.

Bed capacity was immediately expanded in private hospitals. An order was passed by the Kejriwal government whereby all private hospitals with more than 50 beds had to reserve 40% of beds for treating COVID patients. Not only did this mean that the number of COVID beds in private hospitals increased from 700 to 5000, it also meant that COVID facilities were now available in all parts of the city. With hotels being linked to private hospitals the number of beds went up to 15,000.

Accessible information on bed availability

More than a 1000 beds were available even in the first week of June, but the patients and their families did not know which were the hospitals where these beds were available.

The Kejriwal government became the first in the country to launch 'Delhi Corona App' that displayed real-time availability of beds.

Counselling of Corona patients by doctors:

The Delhi Govt collaborated with a network of NGOs and Doctor-volunteers who started real-time calling and counselling of COVID-positive patients, as soon as their lab reports got uploaded. This meant that a COVID-positive patient was able to get medical advice and counselling within hours of getting their lab reports.

Reducing deaths:

COVID-19 has a 2-5% mortality rate across the world. In the absence of a vaccine for this virus, it may not be possible to bring the mortality rate down to zero, but proper patient and facility management can lead to reduction of mortality and this is exactly the strategy that has been followed in Delhi.

The focus of the Delhi Government was on ensuring that the patients who had mild symptoms could recover at home, so that hospital facilities remained available for serious and critical patients.

Plasma Therapy:

Delhi was the first to start an experimental trial of plasma therapy in LNJP, the largest Delhi Government COVID-19 facility. Trial results were very encouraging. In a first, across the country, a 'Plasma Bank' has been set up by the Delhi Government.

Public engagement and participation:

Throughout the pandemic the Chief Minister himself has kept a direct engagement with the people of Delhi - be it explaining Home Isolation, how oximeters work, why plasma should be donated, how hospitals beds are being increased.

This engagement has meant that the people of Delhi have always been informed by a trusted voice about where the city stands in its ability to confront the Coronavirus.

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