New Delhi: The national capital is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases yet again. According to the latest health bulletin issued by the government, Delhi recorded as many as 5,664 fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the tally of COVID-19 cases in the state to over 3.92 lakh, while the death toll mounted to 6,562. As per the data, fifty-one fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours. This was the fifth consecutive day that Delhi recorded over 5,000 cases, after a week of recording 3,000-4,000 cases in a day. According to a health bulletin issued by the Delhi government, 44,623 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.
The surge in Delhi COVID-19 cases have also started to be seen in the COVID hospitals, currently, 66 per cent, or 825 out of a total 1,244, of Delhi’s total ICU beds with ventilators are occupied, shows this morning’s data on Delhi government’s mobile app on all COVID-related information – Delhi Corona.
Max Healthcare, Fortis, Apollo and Batra are among the biggest private hospitals in Delhi and as per the data on the app, all the 84 ICU beds with ventilators in these facilities were occupied at 8 am this morning. Along with private, Government hospitals are also facing very heavy caseload of severely ill patients, with only a few ICU-ventilator beds now vacant.
At All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)- New Delhi only 5 out of 50 ICU beds with ventilators were available. At Safdarjung – Delhi’s largest government hospital – only 1 bed out of 54 is vacant, while only 11 out of 200 ICU-ventilator beds were available at the 900-bed Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, a COVID-only facility.
NDTV speaks with experts to understand this surge in the national capital region as the trends on Delhi COVID number suggest that the state is heading towards its third peak and it is a possibility that this will be more severe.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Centre For Chest Surgery said,
The numbers are huge but I am not surprised with this. As we move ahead with coronavirus pandemic, I have seen people developing the sense of complacency, now they are thinking that the numbers have started to decrease and they are kind of in the safe zone. Over these past few days, we have seen the decreasing adherence of three basic rules that are known to cure COVID – masking, social distancing and handwashing. Secondly, we have just finished one major festival and we are heading towards more festivities, which will lead to a large number of people coming together for various activities, thirdly and more severe one, if we look at the PM (Particulate Matter) 2.5 levels in the city, it is on the rise and will continue to rise in the coming few months and researches worldwide have shown that it has a deleterious effect on the incident and as well as mortality of COVID-19. I think these three things are leading to this rise in Delhi cases and as a doctor, my biggest fear is that if the number trend continues like this, we will be headed towards a disaster.
Further talking about air pollution and its link with COVID, Dr Arvind Kumar said that there are two studies that have come in the recent past – one shows that the incidents of COVID are high in higher polluted areas and the other has shown that there is more COVID mortality in areas where there is more PM 2.5. He added,
One of the theories that has come in these studies is that the COVID virus gets latched on surfaces of these particles and when the pollution levels spike in the area, more people tend to inhale the PM 2.5 particles, which goes deep into the lungs of the human body thereby infecting the person with the virus. As a result, it is said that in areas where pollution is high the chances of getting infected in that region is much high s compared to areas with low pollution.
Putting the context of air pollution in the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the national capital, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS said,
I think this is just the resurgence of the second wave in the national capital as when we say the third wave, we have to have the second wave numbers coming down drastically for a substantial time period. In Delhi, when we had the second wave the cases went up to 4,000 and more and they came down to 2,000 and not more. And now again the numbers have started to increase, i think this is just the resurgence of the second wave itself. It is a cause of concern definitely, as we are showing a decreasing trend across the country whereas in Delhi the numbers are growing and it is related to number of factors – air pollution, people becoming careless and not following COVID appropriate behaviour and thirdly because of the festivities and celebrations, people are coming together in large numbers.
On the other hand, Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital told NDTV,
When temperature dips, the severity of the disease increases. We are seeing more serious patients in Emergency. We used to have 40-50 ICU patients every day but now we are seeing 80-90 for the last 3-4 days. Due to pollution and COVID, the oxygen levels go down for the patient and respiratory issues get worse.
Whereas, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain has said that ‘aggressive contact tracing’ was the primary reason for the sudden increase in numbers in the capital, while addressing the media on Sunday (November 1). He said,
If a person tests positive then his entire family and the people in contact have to be tested, thus more cases of COVID-19 were recorded. Earlier six-seven contacts of a positive person were traced, now this number has crossed 15. Aggressive contact tracing is the immediate cause for a sudden spike in numbers because random testing hasn’t recorded as many cases. The Minister also said that only 40 per cent of COVID-19 beds were occupied in the capital. He added, “We still have around 9,500 beds available in hospitals.”
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.
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