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As Covid-19 cases rise, Delhi govt begins ramping up its home isolation infra

Delhi so far, has recorded at least 35 cases of the Omicron variant. The Capital recorded 102 fresh cases on Tuesday, and one death of the viral infection, according to the Delhi government’s daily Covid bulletin.
A Covid-19 isolation centre set up at CWG Village as a precautionary measure in the wake of the rise in cases. The Capital recorded 102 fresh cases and one death of the viral infection on Tuesday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)
Updated on Dec 22, 2021 01:53 AM IST
By, New Delhi

The Delhi government has started ramping up its home isolation system at an estimated cost of 2.5 crore as the Capital records one of the highest caseloads of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Delhi so far, has recorded at least 54 cases of the Omicron variant, according to data released by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The Capital recorded 102 fresh cases on Tuesday, and one death of the viral infection, according to the Delhi government’s daily Covid bulletin. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said all new cases of Covid-19 will be sent for genome sequencing for Omicron in view of the rising number of related infections being detected in the national capital.

The Delhi government is now looking for a private concessionaire to provide services for the management of Covid-19 patients in the city. “Like previous times, it has been once decided to once again outsource the management and monitoring of patients in home isolation to private agencies with expertise in rendering integrated healthcare services like health monitoring, care and wellness programmes for patients, including nursing/nursing attendant services, doctors on call, etc,” said a senior health official on condition of anonymity.

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On Monday, the office of director general of health services (DGHS) also floated a tender to invite applications from interested concessionaires. The cost of the project is approximately 2.5 crore for three months.

The government has predicted that there will be an average addition of 1,200 new Covid-19 positive patients per dayonce cases begin to surge and approximately two-thirds of them will be in home isolation during the concessionaire’s contract period, according to the tender document seen by HT.

The home isolation service will primarily facilitate the management of “symptomatic to mild” Covid-19 patients at home with their consent. “The company/firm will make at least one telephonic contact per day with all the persons, in home isolation, as referred to it by designated officer of the Delhi government. On each call, the caller will obtain information on all parameters such as temperature, breathlessness, oxygen level, condition of co-morbidity and status of general well- being or any other parameter as required by the state,” the tender document said.

If a patient develops symptoms that require hospitalisation, the case would immediately be reported to the designated authority of Delhi government, for immediate hospitalisation of the patient.

Home isolation is for Covid-19 patients with mild or no symptoms who can afford to isolate themselves from other family members at their residences. Patients in home isolation are supposed to remain isolated for at least seven days after the onset of symptoms -- or testing positive, in case there are no symptoms – provided they do not have fever for three consecutive days.

Delhi was the first state in the country to push for home isolation when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020. Back then, it had set up the first home isolation system by roping in a private agency, but the lieutenant governor (L-G) asked the government to re-do the process as the concessionaire was appointed without floating a tender, which was in violation of the general financial rules (GFR). Since then, the Delhi government has floated tenders from time to time to outsource the task of tracking patients in home isolation.

In its latest tender for the task, the Delhi government said that the private agency will have to ensure all records are updated everyday. It will have to submit to the government the call log comprising all calls made to these individuals in annexed format; the list of all individuals reporting temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above; the list of all individuals reporting SPO2 <94%; and the list of all individuals who were transferred to hospitals or Covid care centres as a result of telephonic counselling everyday.

“If any patient is not cooperating or not responding, the agency shall provide a list of such patients on a daily basis who may be shifted to Covid care centres,” it stated.

The government said complaints will be addressed and resolved within 24 hours, failing which the services of the company shall be termed unsatisfactory and penal action would be taken.

On Monday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the decision to focus on home isolation was taken during a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

“In the DDMA meeting, we discussed the Omicron variant at length with experts. They (experts) say that Omicron spreads very fast, but its symptoms are very mild. It also requires less hospitalisation and the chance of death is very low. Keeping that in mind, today DDMA has decided that the focus this time will be on home isolation because maximum people will be treated at home if there is another wave,” Kejriwal said.

The chief minister will chair a meeting on December 23 specifically to ensure proper management of home isolation in the city.

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