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Sisodia: 5.5 lakh cases by July PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 June 2020 00:00
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Requires a 9-fold hike in hospital beds, to 80,000; getting to that will be very difficult

 

Stating that Delhi was likely to see Covid-19 infections rising to 5.5 lakh by the end of July – up from just under 30,000 right now – deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia sought to, for the second day running, justify the state government’s decision to reserve Delhi government hospital beds for local residents.

Looking after this number of patients, he said, would require a nine-fold hike in hospital bed capacity in 7-8 weeks, from 8,892 right now to 80,000 by the end of July. Sisodia seemed to argue that, since achieving that will be very tough, the Lieutenant Governor’s decision to allow ‘outsiders’ to use these beds will mean ‘locals’ will almost certainly be left without beds. Sisodia said the LG had been asked to reconsider his decision but had refused.

Though Sisodia did not say why the Delhi government had not stepped up the process of creating fresh hospital-bed capacity, a recent report by a panel set up by it had estimated a demand for 44,000 beds by mid-July; Sisodia’s end-July number is most likely an extrapolation of this report.

Since it is not going to be possible to create so much fresh capacity – 1,368 per day – in such little time, the Delhi government has been trying to reduce the load by changing guidelines to allow the mildly infected to be treated at home. It is also trying to convert hotels into hospitals; its last order to convert five hotels into hospitals has been challenged by two of them already. Regardless of whether the LG’s orders will leave that many less beds for ‘locals’, even if the state’s order had been upheld, it would be hard-pressed to provide anywhere near the number of beds required.

If Delhi has 5.5 lakh infected persons by July 31, Delhi will be seeing over 27,200 cases per million, against New York’s current level of 25,120 per million, London’s 3,047 and Milan’s 17,361—cities that are believed to have already passed their peak infection stage.

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Health minister hints at community transmission

 

Delhi health Satyendar Jain suggested that ‘community transmission’ of Covid-19 was under way when, in response to a question on this, he said the source of infection was not known for 50% of the cases detected. On the specific question of what this meant, he said declaring community transmission was the remit of the Union government. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, in a press interaction later, said that the Centre’s officials have held so far that there is no community infection in national capital territory, as per agency reports.

Some months ago, an ICMR study had found that 40% of 102 patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) reported no history of travel or contact with a known case of Covid-19. While this is a classic symptom of community transmission, experts had then argued that this could also be attributed to incomplete reporting and poor contact-tracing. If person A contracted the infection from person B whom she met without realising that the latter was infected – and B may also not know of her infection – this would be reported as ‘community transmission’ while, in fact, it is not.

The matter is also complicated by the fact that there is no official definition of community transmission. While WHO doesn’t demarcate a threshold level of unknown-contact-history infections as community transmission, Union health ministry officials said, as far back as late March, that a 20-30% reporting of cases with unknown contact history would be deemed community transmission; there is, however, no official guideline on this yet.

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