DDMA discusses increasing Covid beds, capping passengers in buses but no lockdown yet
New Delhi: Members of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday discussed strategies such as increasing Covid-19 beds in city hospitals by at least 6,000, shutting schools, capping the number of passengers in state-run buses and regulating weekly markets to contain the sharp increase in the cases of the infection even as all members were unanimous that a lockdown was not feasible.
Measures such as ensuring adequate contact tracing, maintaining the current testing numbers and increasing enforcement against gatherings in the light of upcoming festivities such as Navratras and the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan were also discussed during an authority meeting chaired by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and attended by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior administration officials.
Soon after a meeting of the authority concluded, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is the vice-chairperson of DDMA, announced closure of all schools in the city. “Due to increasing cases of Covid-19, all schools, government and private, in Delhi are being closed for all classes till further orders,” he tweeted.
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is the chairperson of DDMA, directed health officials to augment bed strength further up to the number of Covid-19 beds that Delhi had during the third wave of the disease in November.
“On November 11, 2020, when Delhi recorded 8,593 cases, we had 16,500 beds earmarked for the treatment of Covid-19 in government and private hospitals. The L-G and the expert panel on Friday suggested that the number of Covid-19 beds be matched to that at least,” said a senior official who attended the meeting on condition of anonymity.
There have been suggestions to revive the Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Covid hospital in Delhi Cantonment area, which was managed by the DRDO, officials aware of the matter said. The hospital can provide 1,000 Covid beds. The facility had shut operations on February 12 this year on the directions of the Union ministry of home affairs as Covid cases had declined.
On Friday, Delhi recorded 8,521 new Covid-19 cases and 39 deaths, according to the state government bulletin. It also showed that as on Friday, 5,097 Covid beds were occupied against a total of 10,832 beds. As per the Delhi corona app, 427 ICU beds with ventilators out of 1,156 were available and 711 ICU beds without ventilators of total 1,770 were vacant on Friday.
On Thursday, the Delhi government directed 115 private hospitals with a bed capacity of at least 50, to reserve either half of the ICU and ward beds or 1.25 times the number of beds occupied by Covid patients at present, whichever is higher. The bed capacity in the government-run Lok Nayak Hospital and GTB Hospitals has been increased 500 each.
A second senior official who attended the DDMA meeting said the members also discussed if the number of passengers in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses should once again be capped (up to 50% capacity). Currently, all seats in the state-run buses are allowed to be occupied, but passengers are not allowed to stand while travelling. The Delhi Metro is already operating at half of its strength so no changes were suggested in that regard, the official said.
After the DDMA meeting, the L-G said that he told all the district administrations to ensure optimum utilisation of existing Covid care centres, apart from ensuring enhanced capacity and dedicated resources in hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
“After detailed deliberations with experts, in view of the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in Delhi, strict enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior was emphasised, particularly in market places, public transport, workplaces etc, especially in wake of the upcoming festivals,” Baijal said in a tweet.
Officials said the focus will continue to be on preventing any form of gatherings which are likely to happen in the light of the upcoming Navratra and the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan and other festivals.
“Officials were advised to further strengthen the implementation of testing, tracing and treatment strategies with focus on micro-containment zones and geographical areas with high incidence of Covid-19 cases. The health department has been advised to scale up vaccination efforts so as to enhance coverage…” read another tweet by the L-G.