Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 15 reviewed the Covid-19 situation in Delhi, in the backdrop of the rising number of cases and the increasing strain on the capacity of medical infrastructure in the hospitals of the Capital.
At the outset, Dr VK Paul made a presentation, which highlighted the deteriorating situation of Covid-19 in Delhi. It was pointed out that the number of active cases per day has increased substantially. While the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) continues to remain in control, the health and medical infrastructures, such as dedicated Covid-19 beds, beds with ventilators, and ICUs, is already showing signs of strain. Accordingly, it is essential to enhance surveillance, strictly enforce containment measures, increase testing, and rapidly build up the requisite medical infrastructure.
The Union Home Minister issued a number of directions in the meeting. First, it was directed that the testing capacity for RT-PCR tests would be doubled in Delhi, by optimally utilising the lab capacity within Delhi itself; through mobile testing labs, to be deployed by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoH&FW) and ICMR, in areas where poor and vulnerable sections of the society reside; by temporarily shifting some testing labs from other parts of the country, where they are unutilised, to Delhi; and, by utilising spare capacity in neighbouring regions of Delhi. This was considered essential to bring down the positivity rate in Delhi, which has gone up substantially in recent weeks.
Amit Shah also directed that the hospital capacity and availability of other medical infrastructure should be ramped up considerably. It was decided that 250-300 additional beds with ICUs would be added to the existing medical facility of DRDO at Dhaula Kuan, where, presently, around 250 beds have been provided with ICUs, out of the total available 1000 Covid-19 beds. The 10,000 bed, Covid Care Centre, established at Chattarpur, would also be strengthened, to enhancing the availability of beds with oxygen capacity. Home Minister directed MOHF&W to make arrangements for requisite numbers of BIPAP machines and high flow nasal canulas to the Delhi Government within the next 48 hours.
Because of the shortage of medical staff in Delhi, the Modi Government has decided to provide additional doctors and paramedical staff from the CAPFs, and they would soon be airlifted to Delhi. It was also decided that dedicated multi-departmental teams would visit all the private hospitals in Delhi, to physically check the availability of Covid-19 medical infrastructure vis-a-vis the admission status, and to ensure that the correct position of availability was displayed prominently, as had been decided earlier. A few identified hospitals of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) would also be converted as dedicated hospitals for Covid-19 treatment, especially for accommodating patients with milder symptoms. The strengthening of medical infrastructure should ensure that a sufficient number of beds/ventilators/ICUs are available to take care of the rising number of cases in Delhi. It was also decided that MOHF&W will issue a standard protocol for plasma therapy and plasma administration for treatment of COVID-19 patients immediately.
The Home Minister also emphasised that the entire set of containment measures instituted earlier, such as the establishment of containment zones, contact tracing and quarantining, and screening, particularly of vulnerable sections of society, should be reviewed continuously so that there are no gaps in implementing these measures.
There should be no letup in strictly enforcing these containment strategies. The concerned officers, particularly those at District levels, would be personally responsible for ensuring compliance in this regard, and any deviation observed in this regard would be viewed seriously. Home Minister, specifically emphasised the need to keep track of Covid-19 patients, who are in home isolation, and to ensure that they are shifted to regular hospitals, as soon as urgent medical attention is deemed necessary. It was also decided that the teams of AIIMS will conduct a house-to-house survey in the entire Delhi, Government of NCT of Delhi and Municipal Corporations (MCDs) of Delhi; after that, all the symptomatic persons found in the survey would be tested and provided the necessary treatment.
Union Home Minister directed that there should be a strong communication strategy to educate people on appropriate Covid-19 behaviour and inform them about the negative impact of the disease on long term medical and health parameters. He also directed the authorities of Delhi Government and Commissioner of Police (CP), Delhi, to strictly enforce the necessary measures, especially wearing of face masks, so that there is no laxity in the observance of appropriate Covid-19 behaviour.
In the end, Home Minister reiterated the urgent need to bring down the incidence of Covid-19 in Delhi, and also ensure that there were no gaps in providing timely requisite medical treatment to the affected persons, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable. He informed that the situation of Covid-19 in Delhi, as also in the neighbouring areas of the National Capital Region (NCR), would be reviewed continuously over the coming weeks.
The meeting was attended by Union Health Minister, Lt. Governor, Delhi, Chief Minister, Delhi; Health Minister, Delhi; Home Secretary; Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW); Dr V.K Paul; Director, AIIMS; Director-General, ICMR; Secretary, DRDO; Director-General, Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) and other senior officials.