New Delhi: Delhi has witnessed a sharp surge in patients requiring hospitalisation and critical care due to COVID-19 over the past month-and-a-half. The number of deaths due to the disease has also been climbing.
However, just as health authorities have confirmed whether community transmission of the novel coronavirus is underway in India, they have been quiet about whether the current surge is part of the ‘second wave’.
In other, less populous countries, the ‘second wave’ has been the name for a spurt in the case load after a drop. In India, the national case load has been continuously on the rise. However, the regional case numbers vary considerably.
Nonetheless, in Delhi, the data indicates that the virus is once again spreading fast through specific populations. And because it is so infectious, hospitals have been faced with a wave of patients testing their preparedness.
Indeed, many prominent private hospitals in the national capital have run out of beds in their ICUs. On the morning of September 16, according to the Delhi government’s ‘Corona’ app, there were no ICU beds with ventilators available at Batra Hospital, Apollo Hospital, Max Patparganj, Max Saket and Maharaja Agrasen Hospital.
At other hospitals, like Gangaram and Max Shalimar Bagh, the app showed only a few available beds, implying no guarantee that a patient would get them by the time they reached the hospital. ICU beds without ventilators weren’t easily available either.
According to the app, 39% of beds with ventilators and 35.7% of beds without ventilators were available in ICUs around the city on the morning of September 16. This is down from 68% and 69.8%, respectively, on August 7.
In fact, the data revealed that out of a total of 1223 ICU beds with ventilators, only 477 were available across the city and in case of ICU beds without ventilators, only 477 out of 1335 were available.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain recently ordered all 33 private hospitals in the city (with 50 beds or more) to reserve 80% of their ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. He also said hospitals in Delhi treating COVID-19 patients have already been allowed to increase their total bed capacity by up to 30% to treat COVID-19 patients.
He also said the ICU bed shortage was keener in the better known private hospitals than in government hospitals.
On the matter of testing, Jain said the government has ramped up testing volume from around 16,000 tests per day in early July to around 60,000 per day today. The test positivity ratio is around 7.2% in Delhi, compared to the national average of about 8.8%. Over 2.25 lakh people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Delhi thus far.
Deaths due to COVID-19 have also been rising. The average number of deaths per day due to COVID-19 was over 100 in the third week of June, then dropped to 10-20 last month, before climbing to around 30 deaths a day on average this month. On September 15, Delhi’s health authorities reported 36 people had died due to COVID-19 during the last 24 hours, taking the total death to 4,808.