New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday acknowledged the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in the city over the past week, but said there should not be too much cause for concern as neither the serious cases nor the incidence of deaths has risen sharply. He also instructed all private hospitals to assist patients in getting to COVID-19 designated hospitals in case they are themselves not able to provide care.
In the past 24 hours, the number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi rose by 635 to reach 14,053, while the number of deaths increased by 15 to 276.
Nearly 4,000 new cases since lockdown relaxation
Kejriwal said in the past week, since the lockdown norms were relaxed, the number of COVID-19 cases has risen from 9,555 to 14,053 patients. This, he said, marked an increase of around 4,000 cases. But overall, he noted that this has not put too great a burden on the infrastructure as “about 2,500 people got cured in this period”. Moreover, he said, while thousands of new patients have tested positive, only 250 of them were admitted in hospitals.
So, the chief minister said: “There has been an increase in cases but nothing to worry about. I would be worried if the number of deaths start increasing dramatically. People should not die in big numbers. Also the cases should not be very serious. Because that would make our hospital system collapse – for then there would be greater requirement for beds, ICUs and ventilators.’
276 lives lost so far
On the total figures, Kejriwal said there were 14,053 cases, of which 6,771 have recovered or have been discharged from hospitals, while 7,006 are active. He said 276 people have lost their lives in the city due to COVID-19 so far.
The CM said Delhi is well prepared for a sharp increase in cases. He said the city has made adequate provisions for more beds in hospitals.
On the status of the hospitals, Kejriwal said, in government hospitals, there were 3,829 beds of which 3,164 have oxygen supply facilities available.
He said availability of oxygen for the patients is an important aspect of COVID-19 management. “There is no medicine for the coronavirus. Patients suffer a lack of oxygen and their respiration rate goes up and so oxygen is required for them.”
As of Monday, 1,478 of the beds in government hospitals are occupied, he said, adding that nearly 2,500 beds are still available for new patients. Similarly, these hospitals have 250 ventilators, of which 11 are being used.
Higher demand for private hospitals
In private hospitals, he said, there were 677 beds, of which 509 are occupied and so 168 are available.
In view of the current situation, Kejriwal said the availability of beds in private hospitals was being increased. He said there are 117 private hospitals in the NCR region, and they will now have to keep 20% of the beds for COVID-19 patients. “With this, 2,000 extra beds will be available in the private sector.”
Also, he said, 72 ventilators are available in the private sector, of which 15 are in use.
Most patients asymptomatic or with mild symptoms
The chief minister said in Delhi, most patients have mild symptoms such as fever or cough or are completely asymptomatic. “Most of them are kept at home and we have a team which regularly coordinates with them and monitors them there,” he said.
He said as of now, 3,314 people are being treated at home while about 2,000 are being treated in hospitals.
More beds being arranged
Over the next three to four days, Kejriwal said 1,500 more beds with oxygen facility would be made available at GTB Hospital in North East Delhi for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. “We have also given an order on Sunday to prepare another 2,000 beds for the treatment of such patients,” he added.
Kejriwal said another issue which is being addressed is about providing information to people on where to go if they test positive. “People also do not know where to go when they or someone close to them tests positive. In a couple of days we will have a system in place whereby every person will have information on who and where to approach,” he added.
The CM said all hospitals have also been told to not turn away COVID-19 patients. “Two days ago, a patient was admitted in a private hospital and he tested positive. He was told by the hospital to search for a bed elsewhere. We have issued a show cause notice to the hospital on why its licence should not be cancelled. It is the responsibility of the hospital to take COVID-19 patients to a government or private dedicated hospital.”