Delhi logs 1,024 fresh Covid-19 cases, count crosses 16k
The number of new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections in Delhi crossed the 1,000 mark for the first time, government data showed on Thursday, suggesting the national capital has breached a key threshold that officials identified back in March as the trigger for health care preparations to be bolstered further.
The Delhi government’s health bulletin showed the Capital has now recorded a total of 16,281 infections – up 1,024 from Wednesday – with 316 fatalities in all.
Thursday’s figures were released later than usual as authorities rechecked the data since the jump was significantly higher than recent trends, according to officials who asked not to be named.
The number for new cases has shown wide fluctuations in the last five days: it was 412 on Tuesday, down from 635 the day before. On Wednesday, the number was 792. Of the 16,281 infections, 7,495 have recovered.
In late March, a five-member panel of doctors headed by SK Sarin, the director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, drew up a mitigation strategy to activate new hospitals and add or divert hundreds of hospital beds to treat Covid-19 patients in case of a surge in infections.
The strategy identified three thresholds based on new single-day cases – 100, 500 and 1,000 -- which would determine how many beds are added or carved out from existing capacity.
“The government is now looking at revising the admission criteria to lessen the burden on hospitals,” said a senior doctor involved in the planning, asking not to be named.
The move comes at a time when close to a third of the active Covid-19 cases in Delhi are hospitalised, a much higher admission rate than the national average of 6.39%.
Designated Covid-19 hospitals – both private and public – are at around 75% of their capacity, according to government data, which has triggered concerns over whether the city will be able to meet a demand surge.
Over the weekend, the government directed 117 private hospitals in the city to reserve 20% of their beds for Covid-19 patients. It also designated 1,500 beds with oxygen support at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
The first cases in the city were reported on March 2 in a 45-year-old man from Mayur Vihar who had returned from Italy. It took Delhi 40 days to record the first thousand cases of the viral infection on April 11.
It took another 24 days for the city hit the 5,000 case-mark on May 5. The next 5,000 cases were recorded in 13 days, with the city hitting the 10,000 cases mark on May 18.
Another 5,000 cases were recorded in the next nine days, with Delhi recording 15,257 cases on Wednesday.
“The numbers are only going to go up now that the lockdown norms have been relaxed. What we need to look at is mortality. There is a need for early detection of cases and timely treatment so that people do not succumb to the viral infection,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
“And, if private hospitals are involved, the government also has to ensure that the cost of treatment is reasonable by capping prices,” he added.
Delhi’s case fatality rate, the proportion of deaths from confirmed cases, is now at 1.94%. This could, however, be skewed to a lower end at present since there is usually a lag of three-four weeks between when a patient succumbs from when they tested positive.
Among the city’s infections are frontline medical staff treating Covid-19 patients. At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, at least 195 hospital staff have tested positive for the infection till Wednesday. “In the last two days, at least 50 health care workers have tested positive, including three resident doctors,” said Srinivas Rajkumar T, general secretary of AIIMS resident doctors’ association.
“So far, 195 hospital staff – regular and contractual – have tested positive for the infection, many of them have recovered and resumed work. Among the total, there are two faculty members and five resident doctors who have tested positive,” said Dr DK Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS.