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Increased testing, more ICU beds: Centre's Covid plan for Delhi


New Delhi, Nov 15: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday took stock of Delhi's COVID-19 situation in the wake of recent spike in cases in the national capital.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain and senior officers of the central government attended the meeting chaired by Shah.

Amit Shah

"The number of RT-PCR tests to be doubled in Delhi. Mobile Testing Vans of ICMR and Health Ministry to be deployed at vulnerable spots. Few MCD hospitals to be converted into COVID dedicated hospitals for treatment of COVID patients with mild symptoms," he said after a review meeting.

"A review of all previously established containment measures like marking of containment zones, contact tracing, quarantine and screening in Delhi. Additional doctors from CAPFs and paramedical staff to be airlifted to Delhi, in view of shortage of health care workers here," he said.

Shah said dedicated multi-department teams will visit all private hospitals in Delhi for inspection of availability of COVID-19 medical infrastructure, admission of patients and availability of beds. More oxygen cylinders, high-flow nasal cannula and other necessary equipment will be made available to the Delhi government by the Centre, he added.

"Directions have been given for protocol to be made for plasma donation and transfusion in the case of COVID-19 patients," said Shah. A high-level committee headed by Dr VK Paul, AIIMS, and the ICMR Director General will submit a report on this soon."

Delhi recorded 3,235 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to over 4.85 lakh on Sunday, while ninety-five more fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,614.

On November 2, a meeting convened by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla had attributed the third surge in coronavirus cases in Delhi to festivals and a greater movement of people, accompanied by laxity in adhering to the basic principles of COVID-appropriate behaviour. However, Kejriwal last week blamed pollution for the spike in the cases.

The meeting chaired by Bhalla had resolved that efforts would be made for testing, contact-tracing and treatment, especially in the critical zones. It also emphasised that travel by metro should be carefully regulated, in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

While the numbers of fresh COVID cases and active cases are going up, the administration is focussing on testing, contact-tracing and treatment. The fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday in Delhi were detected from 21,098 tests conducted the previous day. The positivity rate increased to 15.33 per cent, according to a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

The national capital had recorded its highest single-day spike of 8,593 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. On Thursday, 104 fatalities, the highest in a day in over five months, were recorded. According to the health bulletin issued on Saturday, the tally of active cases rose to 44,456 in the national capital while the recovery rate stood at over 89 per cent. The number of containment zones in Delhi was 4,288 as on Saturday.

The sudden spike in coronavirus cases comes amid the festive season and rising pollution levels. While Durga Puja celebrations ended on October 25, Diwali was on Saturday and Chhath later this week. The National Centre for Disease Control, in a report drafted recently, had warned that Delhi needed to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh COVID-19 cases per day, taking into account the winter-related respiratory problems, a large influx of patients from outside and festive gatherings.

In June, when the number of COVID-19 cases was on the rise in Delhi, Shah had swung into action after criticism in different quarters of the Delhi government's handling of the crisis. At that time, there were complaints of non-availability of beds in hospitals and difficulty in getting tests done in laboratories.

By leading from the front, the home minister improved the facilities by increasing the numbers of daily testing, hospital beds and setting up temporary hospitals and COVID care centre. A committee set up by Shah also fixed the rates for testing, beds in private hospitals, ICUs and isolation beds.

At a meeting on June 18, the home minister had said a common strategy should be framed for Delhi and the National Capital region (NCR) to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and added that suburbs like Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad cannot be separated from the national capital in this battle.

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