By Aakanksha Khajuria
New Delhi, Nov 6 (IANS) As Delhi reels under another bout of coronavirus infections, hospitals in the Capital are witnessing a sudden spike in footfall of such patients, with public health experts attributing the increase to pollution crisis, the onset of winter and pandemic lethargy.
Delhi has been recording more than 6,000 daily Covid-19 cases for the last three days. On Wednesday, it had logged a single-day spike of 6,725 cases, following which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal admitted that a ‘third wave’ of infections had hit the national capital.
The city has seen two peaks on June 23 and on September 17. Distinctively, it is now facing a double whammy of rising coronavirus cases and severe pollution. Public health experts believe pollution would make things worse for infected patients with pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease.
“The number of admissions have increased significantly in comparison to the last month. Laxity in following anti-Covid norms in the festive season has resulted in a massive spike in daily numbers,” Medical Director of Delhi Government-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, Dr. B.L. Sherwal told IANS.
Dr. Sherwal went on to say that lack of social responsibility in following social distancing norms, not adhering to wearing masks and high pollution levels and change in season is also the reason for the increase in cases.
Another worrying reason is the increase in positivity rate, which is the percentage of people who test positive out of all of the tests done. It is currently at 12.8 per cent, up from an average of 5.3 per cent in the first week of October. The rate has, however, spiked again, pointing at a grave situation.
Data and experts alluded to unavailability of beds across the city. According to Delhi Government’s Corona application, only 26 per cent of the ICU beds with ventilators are vacant across the city, 23 per cent of ICU beds without ventilators are unoccupied, while only 51 per cent of normal Covid-19 beds are available.
Dr Roshan Mathew, in-shift Chief Medical Officer of the emergency ward at All India Institute of Medical Sciences said that the primary reason behind the huge influx of the patients is conversion of two top-tertiary care hospitals in Delhi to a dedicated COVID facility. The situation has diverted the traffic of patients from the two hospitals to AIIMS, raising its occupancy by 10 per cent at least.
Due to dearth of beds, the patients from Aam Aadmi Party-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital are also being sent to another hospital run by them, said Dr. Chhavi Gupta, Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital.
“Currently, we have 140 coronavirus patients in the hospital. Around 85-90 per cent are in ICUs. Asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms are being turned away to their homes and only severe cases are being admitted. On Thursday, we also received patients from LNJP as they had shortage of beds,” Dr. Gupta said.
Dr. R.K. Gupta, a member of Delhi government-constituted committee to check COVID preparedness in the national capital suggested that the city should have much better infrastructure in both government and private hospitals on the lines of the United States. “Secondly, the hospitals can divert the number of beds available for normal patients to Covid patients. That is all we can do at this juncture.”
Taking cognisance of the matter two days ago, the Chief Minister said that the medical infrastructure will be ramped up, with an increase in the oxygen and ICU beds in the Delhi government hospitals for the treatment of Corona patients.
The government also decided to increase targeted testing at crowded places across Delhi, such as markets, etc. Mobile testing vans will be deployed in markets and crowded places across Delhi. Testing can be availed free of cost by the people at these places.
(Aakanksha Khajuria can be contacted at [email protected])