New Delhi: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Sunday the city government has instructed 33 big private hospitals in the national capital to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, amid a shortage of such beds at some facilities.
Delhi has been witnessing a surge in novel coronavirus cases from the last week of August. Delhi recorded its biggest single-day jump of 4,321 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
The infection tally in Delhi rose to 2.18 lakh on Sunday with 4,235 more people contracting the viral disease. This was the fifth day in a trot that the national capital recorded a daily spike of over 4,000 fresh cases, authorities said.
Jain said the Delhi government has directed all the private hospitals having bed strength of 50 or more to reserve at least 80 per cent of their total ICU bed strength for COVID-19 patients.
Considering an increase in cases for the last few days, the Department of Health has ordered 33 hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of the total ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients. In a video conference with 33 private hospitals, Jain had discussed reserving more beds in their ICUs.
“If in some hospitals, non-COVID patients are already admitted, once discharged, the vacant beds will be reserved for COVID patients only,” he told reporters here.
He reiterated that the hospitals in Delhi that are treating COVID-19 patients are allowed to increase their bed capacity up to 30 per cent which shall only be used for COVID-19 patients.
The minister added that the order is relevant only for private hospitals and to ensure more bed capacity in their intensive care units is available so that the demand for ICU beds for COVID-19 patients can be met.
Jain said according to the Delhi Corona app, a total of 14,372 beds are present and 7,938 of them are still vacant and the current order is regarding ICU beds only in private hospitals and there are ample beds available in state-run and Centre-run hospitals.
“ICU beds are facing a slight problem. Although there is a sufficient number of beds in hospitals, there is a shortage of ICU beds in easily approachable hospitals. Hospitals which are in high demand have been ordered to increase ICU beds. Right now ICU beds are available in central government and Delhi government hospitals,” he added.
The best way to protect oneself against COVID-19, the minister said, is using face masks and maintaining social distancing norms. He appealed to the people to be more careful when they go out in public and crowded areas.
Asked if a second lockdown can be imposed amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the Delhi Health minister ruled out the possibility.
“The time for enforcing a lockdown has ended. We have got a lot of experience after the lockdown. The most effective way to prevent the infection is to wear masks. If you wear masks, you can avoid infection to a great extent,” he said.
In the last few days, some people had stopped putting their masks on, and again a campaign was planned and carried out.
“The chief minister himself is making all citizens aware. Messages are also being given via FM and IVR etc. We are telling the Delhi residents through every means that if you are stepping out of house, you must wear masks,” he said.
The Delhi government has significantly ramped up testing in the past few days.
“We have been advised that the more tests we conduct, the more it will help to stop COVID-19. If you are coronavirus positive and without symptoms, you can isolate yourself and will not infect anyone. A large number of tests are being carried out. This is showing a surge in cases, but will greatly help in controlling the infection,” he said.
On the spurt in coronavirus cases in Delhi, he said there is no separate data of people coming from outside, but those who are coming from outside are also being found infected.
“Now, in Delhi, all the transport is functioning, so there is no restriction for the people coming from outside now. Schools, colleges, cinema halls are closed in Delhi. We hope that after 10 to 15 days, the cases will come down,” he said.
To a query about relapse of the coronavirus, Jain said there “has been no case of reinfection in Delhi”.
“It has happened that if you are infected with COVID and your test is negative in 10 to 12 days, you cannot infect others, but the virus can remain in your body. Many times, even after a month-and-half, the test may have a positive result, but the scientific community has not claimed that it is reinfection,” he said.
Jain said Delhi has a test positivity rate of about 7.19 per cent compared to the national rate of around 8.8 per cent. Test positivity rate is the percentage of tested people turning out to be positive for COVID-19.
As of Saturday, Delhi recorded 28 deaths in the last 24 hours which brings down the mortality rate of the last 10 days in the city to about 0.68 per cent when compared to the general average of 2.23 per cent, he said.