Covid-19: Home isolation cases drop from 70K to 5.7K in 24 days in Delhi

Published on Feb 08, 2022 12:16 AM IST

On January 15 this year, 69,554 Covid-19 patients in Delhi were recovering at home (the most at any point during the pandemic), a number that fell to 5,715 by Monday, showed data from the state health department’s daily bulletin

Daily infections peaked at 28,867 on January 13, while the test positivity rate hit a fifth-wave high of 30.64% a day later. (Picture for representation only/HT)
Daily infections peaked at 28,867 on January 13, while the test positivity rate hit a fifth-wave high of 30.64% a day later. (Picture for representation only/HT)
ByAlok KN Mishra, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

From nearly 70,000 on January 15, the number of Covid-19 patients in home isolation in the Capital has shrunk to 5,700 in just over three weeks, showed state government data, highlighting the relatively faster pace of recoveries during the Omicron-fuelled fifth wave of infections.

On January 15 this year, 69,554 Covid-19 patients in Delhi were recovering at home (the most at any point during the pandemic), a number that fell to 5,715 by Monday, showed data from the state health department’s daily bulletin.

Daily infections peaked at 28,867 on January 13, while the test positivity rate hit a fifth-wave high of 30.64% a day later.

In comparison, during the city’s fourth wave of infections between April and May last year, the number of patients in home isolation took over a month to fall from the peak to a number similar to where Delhi stands in its Covid-19 fight right now.

During the Delta-fuelled fourth surge, home isolations hit a high of 54,578 on April 27, 2021, and fell to 5,817 only 33 days later, on May 30.

To be sure, home isolation numbers peaked during the fifth wave because the milder symptoms caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus meant that a far larger number of patients were able to recover without needing institutional care or even medical support.

Even at the peak of admissions, over 80% of Delhi’s hospital beds were free during the fifth wave.

Far more patients needed to be hospitalised between April and May last year, as the Delta surge packed hospitals and sent residents of the city scrambling for medical oxygen.

Health experts too said the faster drop in home isolation numbers this year was characteristic of infections caused by Omicron.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital, said patients infected with Omicron usually recover in 5-7 days as against the 10-12 days taken during the Delhi wave. “Most people infected with Omicron are asymptomatic and some develop mild symptoms. It does not affect lungs the way the Delta variant did. Since the Delta variant affected lungs, many people reported drop in oxygen levels and developed other associated complications as well due to which infected people needed more time in recovery as compared to Omicron infected people,” said Dr Kumar.

State health department officials said nearly 100% patients in home isolation during the fifth wave recovered.

“The government was planning to prepare up to 65,000 Covid-19 beds... Since Omicron has a very high rate of transmissibility - although it caused mild infections - it was feared the caseload will be very high and the city may need more beds. But the number of patients in home isolation continued to swell, without ever pressuring hospitals,” said a health department official who asked not to be named.

The official added that the state government soon turned its focus on augmenting the city’s home isolation infrastructure.

All patients with mild symptoms and with sufficient isolation space were asked to quarantine at home, provided they had no comorbid conditions. The government provided such patients with home isolation kits that comprised pulse oximeters, medicines and other products necessary for a Covid-19 patient.

A South-east district official said an agency hired by the state government contacted patients in home isolation every day.

“Health professionals from the agency noted down patients’ vitals and remotely monitored their health,” said the official.

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