Govt prepping for 3rd wave, city will be able to tackle 30k daily cases: CM Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said the national capital is preparing for the third wave of Covid-19 by augmenting infrastructure to a level where the city will be able to handle even 30,000 daily cases.
“We are increasing oxygen beds... We must prepare for the third wave. In this wave (second for the country and fourth for the city), Delhi recorded a maximum of 28,000 cases in a day. Going by the scale at which we are creating infrastructure now, we will be able to handle the situation even if 30,000 daily cases are reported in the next wave,” Kejriwal said during a visit to the makeshift Covid care centre near GTB hospital in east Delhi.
As on Monday, Delhi had 22,801 Covid-19 beds of which 3,242 were vacant. Also, of the total 5,839 ICU beds, 56 were vacant.
Emphasising that vaccination can play a major role in curbing fresh cases, Kejriwal said the Delhi government has been left with 3-4 days stock of Covid vaccines. “Vaccine has played a major role in curbing the Covid-19 cases. We can prevent the third wave, if we vaccinate people on a large scale but the supply of vaccines is an issue,” he said.
Elaborating the infrastructure augmentation plan, senior government officials said it includes increasing beds in hospitals as well as creating more centres in open grounds, sites run by religious organisations and stadiums.
Government officials said they are already implementing plans to ramp up beds, opening up makeshift centres as well as adding infrastructure in the hospitals.
At least 12,200 beds are ready and can be made available in a week or two. These include nearly 1,000 across all hospitals in the city, 11,000 across non-Hospital centres and around 200 in the municipal corporations, senior government and civic body officials said.
Experts pointed out that the current Covid wave has shown that besides normal Covid care centres which accommodated patients with moderate symptoms, the city will need more beds with oxygen and critical care support both in hospitals as well as the informal set ups, if it encounters another wave of the infection.
“The number of cases has gone down, but the hospitals and ICUs are full. For now, we must focus on breaking the chain of transmission; along with the lockdown we need to vaccinate more people. We also have to keep in mind that the current surge happened because of absolute complacency -- people were not wearing masks, they were gathering for parties and marriages, and travelling. The pandemic is not yet over,” said Dr GC Khilnani, former head of the department of pulmonary medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The number of ward and oxygen beds in Delhi have gone up by 1,380 and intensive care unit beds by 689 over last week, according to data on Delhi Corona app.
Health department officials said Delhi government-run hospitals such as Lok Nayak, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, and Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospitals have added 237 ICU beds. Others such as the Rajeev Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, which rolled back its number of beds from 550 to 350 due to paucity of oxygen, have added 25 beds. “We will slowly scale up the number of beds again now that the oxygen supply has stabilised,” a senior doctor at the hospital said.
The Delhi government on Monday also allocated 990 ventilators to 15 hospitals and makeshift healthcare facilities in order to ramp up ICU beds in the city. Currently, there are 5,872 ICU beds, 98.9% of which were occupied.
At the Delhi government’s new 370-bed Burari hospital, the admissions had been restricted for a couple of days when there was an acute shortage of oxygen. “We are not facing any problems now. The supply has stabilised. In addition to that the requirement for oxygen has also gone down. There are fewer new admissions. The pressure on the healthcare system is slowly easing,” said a senior doctor from the hospital. The hospital plans to scale up the number of beds from 370 to 500 in the coming days.
The private hospitals too have started admitting more patients.
“We have now set up an oxygen generation plant that augments our daily requirement. We are better off now and are able to admit more patients. We have 110 oxygen-dependent patients at the moment against our listed capacity of 76 oxygen beds,” said Dr Sunil Kohli, head of the department of medicine at Hakeem Abdul Hameed Centenary Hospital. Several beds were not being utilised at the hospital as the supply of oxygen was uncertain last week.
Dr PK Bharadwaj, chief executive director of Saroj hospital said, “Now that the supply of oxygen has stabilised we have increased the number of beds in our hospital from 120 to 150 and the number of ICU beds have gone up from 53 to 63 now.”
The Delhi government has readied at least 11,000 beds which is in addition to the Covid care centres that are already operational. This includes 5,000 beds at Radha Soami Satsang’s South Delhi campus, 2,500 beds in two places in Burari, 1,000 beds in Commonwealth Games Village, another 1,000 beds in Yamuna Sports Complex, 1,000 ICU beds at two Ramlila grounds and at least 400 beds at the Rakabganj Gurudwara.
Apart from this, a number of schools and colleges are also being cleaned and readied so they can be converted into isolation centres. On Monday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia visited Mount Carmel School where its auditorium has been converted into a 40-bed covid care centre equipped with oxygen concentrators and medicines.
From Tuesday, the government is opening its 500-bed ICU centre at Ramlila ground outside east Delhi’s GTB hospital. Another 500 ICU beds will be operational in the “next 2-3 days” at the main Ramlila Ground near Lok Nayak hospital, officials said.
“There has been a huge demand for ICU beds. We hope that these 1,000 additional ICU beds will help meet the demand. By this evening, we are expected to receive 1,000 oxygen cylinders, and in the next 3-4 days we expecting more oxygen cylinders to arrive. We are creating new oxygen beds across the city, and hope that Delhi will no longer see any shortage of beds,” chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Monday.
Similarly, the air-conditioned facility at the Rakabganj Gurudwara is also now ready to admit patients, health minister Satyendar Jain said on Monday. “The centre has been attached with Lok Nayak hospital. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has set up this fully AC infrastructure. The Delhi government has supplied medical facilities and equipment. Similar Covid care centres have been set up in various parts of Delhi. We do have ample number of beds and in case patients admitted here go critical, they can be shifted to the ICU ward of the hospital they are attached to,” Jain said.
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Beds in municipal facilities
The three municipalities — north, south and east— are treating Covid patients at nearly six facilities, including hospitals and community centres. Civic bodies officials said at least 610 beds are currently operational across the facilities being run by the three corporations, of which 440 beds are under the north civic body, 85 in east and 60 in south DMC.
Officials said that nearly 200 more beds will be created in a week’s time for Covid-19 patients. Out of 610, nearly 440 beds are operational in the north civic body, 85 in east and 60 under the south corporation.
Jai Prakash, mayor North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said, “In Hindu Rao hospital, we have dedicated 280 beds for Covid treatment; 100 in Rajan Babu and 35 in Balakram hospitals. We will add 65 more beds at Balakram and convert two more community centres in Ashok Vihar and Nabi Karim into Covid dedicated facilities of 25 beds each. So far we have also no dearth of oxygen supply for the three hospitals where Covid patients are being treated.”
South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (SDMC) nodal officer for bed augmentation and Covid management programme, Radha Krishna, said the south body’s Kalkaji hospital will start functioning as a Covid facility with 20 beds and the Tilak Nagar Super Speciality Covid-19 hospital could add 40 beds. He added that to meet the oxygen supply requirements, the SDMC is also installing a plant at its Tilak Nagar hospital.
Similarly, the east Delhi municipal corporation (EDMC) has dedicated 85 beds at its Swami Dayanand Hospital. “We will create 25 more beds here. It is a partially Covid-19 facility as maternity and child care facilities are also being provided here,” EDMC mayor Nirmal Jain said.