Centre Promises 750 ICU Beds, Daily Testing to Be Hiked to 1 Lakh to Arrest Covid-19 Spread in Delhi

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday chaired a meeting to review the Covid-19 situation in Delhi amid a spike in new cases and rise in pollution levels due to Diwali fireworks and stubble burning. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain attended the meeting at North Block.

Shah reviewed the situation arising due to the spike in COVID-19 cases and discussed ways to deal with it, a home ministry official said. Delhi recorded 3,235 fresh cases, taking the infection tally to over 4.85 lakh on Sunday, while ninety-five more fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,614.

The meeting was convened to devise a strategy to contain the spread of the virus in Delhi, especially in view of the festive season and decreasing temperatures accompanied by rising pollution, the official said. On November 2, a meeting convened by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla had attributed the third surge in coronavirus cases in Delhi to festivals and a greater movement of people, accompanied by laxity in adhering to the basic principles of COVID-appropriate behaviour.

"Since October 20, there has been a rise in cases here, there is sufficient number of COVID beds, but ICU beds are exhausting. The Centre has assured 750 ICU beds will be made available at the DRDO centre. The number of COVID tests conducted daily will be increased to over one lakh," said Kejriwal after the meeting.

"The Centre will also help the Delhi government in getting BiPAP machines to increase the number of ICU beds at Delhi government facilities," he added.

Kejriwal had earlier sought Shah's intervention in handling the alarming Covid-19 situation in the national capital. The steps already taken by the Delhi government to control the pandemic are also likely to be discussed in the meeting. The meeting comes at a time when the national capital is witnessing more than 7,000 cases on a daily basis for the past few days.

Pollution has also been a major concern in the national capital with thick blanket of noxious smog enveloping most parts of the city on Sunday, the morning after Diwali. The Air Quality Index (AQI) has reached 'severe’ category following blatant violation of the ban on Diwali crackers and unabated stubble burning in neighbouring states.