Double the number of Covid tests in Delhi, orders Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said that he issued directions to double the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tests in the national capital within a week following a spike in the viral outbreak cases being recorded since August 17.
Delhi recorded 1,544 and 1,693 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
The CM said he gave directions to strengthen enforcement of rules such as wearing of masks in public places and strict adherence to social distancing norms in a bid to keep the raging contagion at bay.
He said that the Delhi government would provide pulse oximetres and oxygen concentrators, if needed, to Covid-19 patients after they recover from their viral infection. Several cases were reported, where Covid-19 patients continue to suffer from respiratory complications even after they had tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, which caused the disease, he added.
“For nearly one and a half months now, the Covid-19 situation in Delhi is under control. But, since August 17, Covid-19 cases have been on an upswing. On Wednesday’s health bulletin, Delhi recorded 1,693 new Covid-19 cases. While on Tuesday, 1,544 new Covid-19 cases were recorded,” said the CM while addressing media persons on Wednesday afternoon via a video-conference.
“However, other parametres are in good shape. For instance, the death rate is low. The case fatality rate (CFR) has come down to 1.4% and continues to be among the best in the country. We have adequate hospital beds as well. At present, there are 14,130 hospital beds, of which 10,448 beds are still lying vacant. The recovery rate is good. The the home isolation model is also doing well. No Covid-19 patient has died during home isolation since July 14,” Kejriwal said.
Tuesday’s 1,544 new Covid-19 cases reflected the highest single-day spike in the viral outbreak in Delhi in 40 days. The surge comes at a time, when the state government has urged the Centre to resume Metro Rail services in the national capital region (NCR) that have been suspended since end-March in a bid to contain the pandemic.
“Today, we held a meeting, where I issued directions asking for the number of Covid-19 tests be doubled within a week. At present, we are conducting 20,000 Covid-19 tests a day. It will be 40,000 from next week. Our strategy remains the same – test and isolate,” said Kejriwal while urging the public to get themselves tested for the pathogen, if they feel the mildest of influenza-like symptoms.
A senior government clarified that the CM referred to both real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests as part of the state government’s aggressive daily testing mechanism.
Soon, the Delhi government is likely to formulate a way to ensure a proportionate increase in both types of tests.
“We have noticed another trend. Covid-19 patients are developing respiratory problems after their recovery. There have been a few instances of death as well. We have decided that Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals after their recovery would now be given pulse oximetres for a certain period. Oxygen concentrators will be sent to them in case their oxygen levels drop at any point in time,” the CM said.
Covid-19 patients under home isolation already get pulse oximetres. The provision to request for oxygen concentrators would also be available for them. In each revenue district, the district magistrates (DMs) are the custodians of the oxygen concentrators, said an official in the chief minister’s office (CMO).
Kejriwal said that he also directed the authorities to strengthen enforcement of rules. “People should wear masks and maintain social distancing. Confidence is good, but it should not lead to complacency at any cost. We hope nobody is penalised. In case a person gets fined, that person must understand that it is for a greater good,” the CM added.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, the CM had called a meeting with health minister Satyendar Jain, chief secretary Vijay Dev and senior health department officials.
Dr Lalit Kant, the former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases department in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), welcomed the Delhi government’s strategy. “Covid-19 cases are going up in Delhi. At this stage, the government must go for aggressive testing, isolate infected people and strengthen its surveillance mechanism. The public should always wear masks, adhere to social distancing norms and follow respiratory etiquettes. There is no room for complacency,” said Dr Kant.