As Delhi faces a third wave of Covid-19 infections, RT-PCR tests will be doubled, more mobile labs will be pressed into service, the number of ICU and oxygen beds will be increased immediately in the capital, a high-level meeting convened by Home Minister Amit Shah decided on Sunday.
The meeting also asked a high-level committee, headed by VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog, to develop a protocol for plasma therapy to treat severe cases. Significantly, trials carried out by the Indian Council Medical Research (ICMR) had failed to prove the effectiveness of plasma therapy. The panel includes ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Director Randeep Guleraia as members. Delhi has been reporting over 7,000 new Covid-19 cases daily for more than a week. In the last 24 hours, it reported 7,340 cases.
Doctors and paramedical staff from Central Armed Police Force will be airlifted to meet the shortage of medical personnel for tackling the pandemic in Delhi and an additional 250 to 300 ICU beds will be made available at the DRDO dedicated Covid hospital at Daula Kuan.
The meeting which was attended by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, also decided to further strengthen the 10,000-bed Covid centre at Chhatarpur by expanding oxygen facility to more beds.
Many hospitals run by the Municipal Corporations of Delhi will be turned into dedicated Covid hospitals to treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The meeting also decided to keep track of patients getting treated at home so that they can be shifted to hospitals if needed.
Similarly, dedicated multi-departmental teams will visit all private hospitals in Delhi to assess the availability of beds, facilities and availability of medical infrastructure related to Covid-19.
At the meeting, it was also decided to deploy mobile testing vans of the Ministry of Health and ICMR in areas where higher number of cases are reported. The Centre also assured the Delhi government that it would provide sufficient oxygen cylinders, high flow nasal cannula and all other essential health equipment to Delhi.
India currently has less than 4.8 lakh active Covid-19 cases, but cases have been rising in many States Particularly, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh apart from Delhi which reported 7,340 cases in the last 24 hours. The number of new cases by the north and central Indian States were over 2,000 each.
Even though it was well known that air pollution can aggravate the Covid-19 situation and the National Green Tribunal ordered banning of crackers in the Capital and many other highly-polluted cities in the country, there were widespread bursting of crackers in Delhi, leading to significantly high levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere.
Pollution level high
According to SAFAR, which tracks concentration of PM10 and PM2.5, the average concentration of pollutants in the capital’s air was over 1,000 parts per million at midnight, possibly due to crackers as crop stubble burning events were significantly down as compared to the previous day. Fortunately, the wind conditions were favourable to flush away the pollutants since Saturday midnight.