Eight new virus deaths in Delhi, fewest in nearly three months
So far, 147,391 people in Delhi have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — and 4,139 people have died.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 23:49 IST
Delhi on Tuesday recorded eight deaths due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the lowest single-day fatalities for the city in nearly three months. This is the first time since May 19 that daily deaths have dropped to single digits.
So far, 147,391 people in Delhi have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — and 4,139 people have died. This puts Delhi’s case fatality rate (CFR) – the proportion of deaths among those diagnosed with the infection – at 2.81%. To be sure, this is much higher than the national average of 1.99%.
“Today there were 8 deaths due to corona in Delhi. After many days fewer than 10 deaths have happened. We have taken several steps to reduce the number of deaths due to corona. Our effort is to have no deaths. For us every life is precious,” said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet.
The highest single-day deaths in Delhi were lodged on June 16 when 437 fatalities were added to the daily bulletin. However, 344 of these deaths had occurred in the past and were being reconciled after being vetted by a three-member death audit committee.
The Delhi government had started reconciling the data on the deaths due to Covid-19 being reported from the city May 12 onwards after news reports highlighted that the cumulative number of deaths in the daily bulletin were much lower than deaths reported from hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the Capital has one of the highest testing rates in the country. As of Tuesday night, over 1.2 million samples have been tested in the city, placing the testing per million at 64,412. In comparison, the national average is 19,643.
Delhi is also the only region in the country that has seemingly managed to turn a corner in the battle against the pandemic in the country. While cases at the national level have a doubling rate of 24.2 days, this number for Delhi is significantly better — 84.4 days.
City hospitals started reported a surge in Covid-19 cases (and subsequently deaths) during the second half of June. Since then, the Delhi government has significantly scaled up the city’s intensive care facilities by creating more ICU beds in its hospitals – Lok Nayak, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality and Guru Teg Bahadur hospital.
“The number of deaths due to Covid-19 has gone down because we now know that early admission in the intensive care unit and providing oxygen therapy helps,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak hospital – Delhi’s biggest Covid-19 treatment facility.
In June — after the centre stepped in to manage the crisis in Delhi – Union home minister Amit Shah had said almost half the deaths in the hospitals were happening within 48 to 72 hours of admission, meaning that patients were reaching hospital later than needed. This, experts had said, was due to a phenomenon called ‘silent hypoxia’, or ‘happy hypoxia’, where patients do not have breathlessness or other symptoms despite having low oxygen saturation.
Provisions were also made to give pulse oximeters to those under home isolation to prevent deaths that were happening because of late admissions.
On June 13, the Indian Council of Medical Research also allowed the use of several therapies – including Delhi government’s flagship plasma therapy – for experimental use in Covid-19 patients outside of clinical trials. Hospitals have reported use of steroids, plasma therapy and drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab have helped in reducing Covid-19 mortality.
The government opened the country’s first plasma bank at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Disease (ILBS), Vasant Kunj on July 2 to aid patients in getting blood-type matched convalescent plasma.
In July end, to further reduce mortality, the Delhi government also set up four panels to inspect 10 hospitals that were reporting higher number of deaths and suggest remedies. Equipping Covid-19 wards with more high-flow nasal oxygen systems, scaling up plasma therapy administration in earlier stages of treatment, early transfer of severe patients to intensive care units (ICUs), and preparing for a ICU bed augmentation strategy for a potential second wave of the pandemic were some of the steps suggested by the committee reduce deaths.
“Over the last few months, we have learnt to better manage Covid-19 patients. We now know that the patients tend to do better when put on high flow oxygen therapy rather than on a ventilator. Earlier, when the condition of the patients deteriorated they were put on ventilators and the outcomes were worse. We also know that early intervention helps. Be it plasma therapy or other drugs, these are being given to patients early on to prevent a high viral load that throws the immune system off track causing a cytokine storm (a condition where a hyper active immune system attacks the body itself) that leads to multi-organ failure and death,” said Dr Neeraj Gupta, professor of pulmonology at Safdarjung hospital.