Delhi adds another 1,000 Covid-19 cases, toll rises by 82
Delhi reported more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Friday for the second consecutive day, prompting the city-state’s government to announce a raft of measures to elevate the state’s preparedness to deal with a potential surge of infections.
On Friday, 1,106 new cases of Covid-19 were added to the city’s tally, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said at a press briefing.
According to the official health bulletin, the total number of cases in the city are 17,386.
However, with the addition of 1,106 cases to Delhi’s tally of 16,281 from Thursday, Friday’s cases should have stood at 17,387. There was no immediate clarification from the government on the discrepancy.
The city’s death toll from the viral disease rose to 398 with the addition of 82 fatalities, although only 13 of the deaths were from the preceding 24-hour period.
On Thursday, Delhi crossed the key threshold of 1,000 cases on a single day for the first time; it is the third of three scenarios projected by a five-member panel of doctors advising the Delhi chief minister which had foreseen the daily tally rising progressively from 100 to 500 to 1,000 cases.
The sudden spike in the numbers has been attributed to increased testing by officials of Delhi’s health department. According to the Friday health bulletin, 7,649 samples had been tested over the past 24 hours, compared to 7,615 the day before, which is much higher than the average 4,900 samples tested each day over the past week. Delhi now tests 10,075 people per million, as compared to the Indian average of 2,614 a million.
“If you see the data, the numbers have gone up because more people have been tested during these two days – these samples were collected both from the community and from those who had come in contact with the positive cases,” said a senior official from Delhi’s health department who requested anonymity.
As the daily tally rose past 1,000 for the second day in a row, the Delhi government on Friday ordered the setting up of 1,900 new beds, including paid hospital facilities in hotels. The government for the first time notified five hotels to be fully used as “extended Covid hospitals” on a payment basis for patients with mild symptoms. While 1,000 beds are being readied in these five hotels, another 400 beds were added through a second order on Friday in which two Delhi government hospitals with 200 beds each were converted into dedicated Covid hospitals. In a third order, the government earmarked 500 beds in GTB Hospital for Covid-19 patients.
In a digital press conference on Friday, Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain said the government was “fully geared up” to handle more than 1,000 cases a day. “We have more than 5,000 beds for coronavirus treatment in Delhi. Out of this, 1,400 beds are in private hospitals, and 3,700 in government hospitals. The number of patients currently on the ventilator is 28. And we have more than 300 dedicated ventilators available currently in Delhi. Our aim is to double the number of beds in the coming days in comparison to the number of patients right now,” said the minister.
Along with the number of cases, the positivity rate, or the percentage of people who test positive among the total number of people tested, also increased. The positivity rate -- the rate at which tests return positive for the infection -- in the city was 14.5% on Friday, higher than 11.2% a week before on May 22.
“A high positivity rate indicates that there are more cases in the community being diagnosed. Right now, we are mainly testing symptomatic individuals and it would be ideal to test more to diagnose them early and isolate them,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The testing capacity of laboratories in the city is limited and government labs that are handling the maximum samples have already reached their limit, warned Dr Broor, who is still in touch with former colleagues and members of the medical fraternity at other hospitals.
Delhi also registered a sharp spike in the number of deaths, with 82 deaths being added to the cumulative toll on Friday. The Delhi health minister said 69 of these deaths had occurred over a period of 34 days and had been recorded after verification by the death audit committee.
This pushed the case fatality ratio of the viral infection in the city to 2.3%, which is still lower than the national average of 2.8%. On May 11, before the death audit committee started recording backlog deaths, Delhi’s mortality rate was 1%.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases crossed 500 on a single day on May 19,two weeks after the first wave of lockdown relaxations were announced by the Delhi government on May 4 . The relaxation included opening of liquor stores and movement of people in personal vehicles, among others. The incubation period, or the time an infected person takes to develop symptoms, is five to six days.
“If more people are tested, more people will turn out to be positive. The numbers are likely to go up further now that travel has resumed and markets have opened up. If you look at global data, India is on an increasing trend right now. The only way to contain the infection in pockets is to seal every lane where cases are being reported,” said Dr GC Khilnani, chairman of PSRI Institute of Pulmonary and critical care.
With the city reporting over 1,000 cases a day, hospitals have started filling up. The currently designated Covid-19 hospitals are running at about 74% capacity.
There are three levels of care for Covid-19 patients in Delhi: Those with mild symptoms can either remain in home isolation or get admitted to the Covid Care Centres, those with moderate symptoms like a slightly elevated respiratory rate are admitted to Covid Health Centres with better monitoring, and those with severe symptoms such as respiratory distress and very low oxygen saturation are admitted to hospitals.
There are a total of 9,142 active cases in Delhi, out of which almost 24% are admitted to hospitals, 50% are in home isolation and the remaining in Covid Care centres.