With Delhi reporting nearly 7,000 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Saturday, the number of active cases or those with current infections crossed the 40,000 mark for the first time in the city as the “third wave” of the pandemic infection rages.
A day after the number of new cases in Delhi breached the 7,000-mark for the time, the capital reported 6,953 cases of the infection on Saturday, as per the Delhi government’s daily Covid bulletin.
Also, according to the bulletin, there were 40,258 people living with the infection in the city as on Friday night with the experts warning further spike in cases due to more violation of Covid norms in the ongoing festive season.
On Saturday, Delhi reported 79 deaths due to the infection, the highest since July 4 when 81 deaths – some that had happened before – were added to the city’s toll.The total number of fatalities stood at 6912.
As per data shared by the union health ministry, Delhi topped the list of 10 states that contributed 77% of the new Covid-19 cases. The Delhi high court had earlier this week said Delhi was on its way to become the “corona capital of the country.”
“The number of cases is likely to continue to go up during the festive season as people tend to have gatherings. The problem is that people tend to get relaxed with their relatives around and do not follow safety measures. People eat together with their masks off at a distance less than 6 feet. Nowadays, even outdoors masks have become chin accessories. Add to that the increase in the levels of pollution, which is also known to increase the severity and transmission of the infection,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Following Delhi’s second surge in cases of the viral infection in September, the number of active cases was on a decline to just over 20,000 recorded on October 12. Since then, the active cases have almost doubled. The government is concerned about the active cases as these are the people who either need to be constantly monitored at home or need to be hospitalised.
With over 19.5% of the patients with current infections needing hospitalisation, the health bulletin showed that 7,858 people were admitted across city hospitals as on Friday night. Despite having over 16,000 beds earmarked for the treatment of the viral infection in government as well as private hospitals, the intensive care unit beds are filling up fast.
Over 80% of all the ICU beds reserved for Covid-19 treatment were occupied as on Saturday night, according to data shared by hospitals on Delhi Corona app. The government ordered eight of its hospitals and 14 private ones to earmark 1,185 more beds for the treatment of Covid-19 on Friday.
Of these, at least 110 beds in the government hospitals will have non-invasive ventilation or high flow nasal oxygen support.
The national capital is currently reeling under the “third wave” of the Covid-19 infection, but cases should begin to come down soon, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said on Saturday.
Interacting with reporters, he also said that the Delhi government has filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court after the high court did not allow reserving 80 per cent ICU beds for Covid-19 patients at several private hospitals
Jain said, “Yesterday, we issued an order to add 1,185 beds for Covid patients in both Delhi government hospitals and many private hospitals.Five hundred beds are to be augmented at city government-run Covid facilities, including 110 ICU beds.”
Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director, Max healthcare, said, “The hospital occupancy has undoubtedly shot up and is likely to go up further. There is an increasing burden on critical care and hospitals are stretched thin. As per government’s data there are several beds vacant in government hospitals, these could be upgraded to provide critical care as most of the Covid-19 patients coming to hospitals need it. Those with mild symptoms prefer to remain in home isolation.”
The number of deaths have gone up along with the increasing number of cases in the city. On average, just over 57 deaths were reported each day over the last seven days as compared to almost 41 deaths the week before.
However, with huge number of cases being reported, the case fatality ratio (CFR) – proportion of deaths among total positive cases – has reduced to 1.6%. This is still higher than the national average of 1.4%.
“And, if the number of hospitalisations keep going up and there is a shortage of beds, the mortality is likely to go up as people in need of critical care might not get it on time,” said Dr Budhiraja.