As the national capital struggles to contain COVID-19, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday asked expert groups to audit virus death cases and suggest measures to reduce fatalities, while Lt Governor Anil Baijal directed authorities to take exemplary and deterrent action for violation of SOPs, especially in crowded markets. At a meeting of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), Baijal directed officials to ensure timely hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients under home isolation in case of emergency to reduce the mortality rate in the national capital which has recorded over 100 daily deaths in seven of the last 13 days.
Sources said the lieutenant governor also asked the officials to ensure strict monitoring of COVID-19 patients under home isolation, amid instances of some people not following isolation norms. An official said that while discussion on vaccine distribution was on the agenda of the DDMA meeting on Wednesday, it did not happen.
The national capital's COVID-19 fatality rate has increased to 1.89 percent as against a national average of 1.46 percent. The city has been reporting the highest number of coronavirus cases and fatalities for the last few days. Delhi recorded 5,246 fresh COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, even as the city witnessed a decline in positivity rate with 8.49 percent, while 99 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,720, authorities said.
This is the first time that 99 deaths have been recorded below 100 in six days. These fresh cases came out of the 61,778 tests conducted on Tuesday including 26,080 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi Health Department. "At the DDMA meeting, the chief minister asked experts to audit death cases and suggest measures which could reduce deaths in the national capital," a source said.
This comes against the backdrop of Delhi's three BJP-led municipal corporations alleging inconsistencies in the official death count vis-a-vis the number of deaths projected by funerals at the crematoria and burial grounds here. According to Delhi government data, the total number of COVID-19 deaths as on November 23 was 8,512, while the civic bodies claimed to have carried out 10,318 funerals.
At a meeting of Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the LG directed officers to strictly enforce necessary measures, especially wearing of face masks so that there is no laxity in the observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour. He asked authorities to take exemplary and deterrent action for violation of COVID-19 SOPs, especially in crowded markets, the sources said.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, NITI Aayog Member V K Paul, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava as well as other experts and senior officers of the Delhi government. On Tuesday, Delhi recorded over 100 COVID-19 deaths for the fifth consecutive day, and the death rate stood at 1.89 percent.
A total of 109 fatalities were recorded on Tuesday, as against 121 on Monday. This was the seventh time in the last 13 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark. Authorities reported 121 deaths on Sunday, 111 on Saturday, 118 on Friday,131 on November 18, the highest till date, and 104 fatalities on November 12.
Late hospital admissions leading to COVID-19 cases turning critical, shortage of ICU beds, unfavourable weather and rising pollution are among the factors experts attribute to the spike in COVID-19 deaths in Delhi. Going by the epidemiological trend, the severity of the disease is more in this phase of the pandemic compared to the last one and several factors, including environmental and pollution, are contributing to it, a health ministry official said.
Dr Samiran Panda, the head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases (ECD) Division at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said not following home isolation guidelines, late reporting to the hospital despite a deterioration in symptoms are some of the factors playing a major role in patients landing up at hospitals in severe conditions. "People who test COVID-19 positive and are advised home isolation should monitor their oxygen saturation levels and seek medical help if the symptoms keep deteriorating. Seeking help early would ensure timely treatment," he said.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain claimed that the national capital had the least fatality per million amongst all four metro cities in India. "Delhi has the least fatality per million amongst all four metro cities in India. There are 860 deaths per million in Mumbai, in Kolkota 562, in Chennai 538 whereas in Delhi 435 deaths per million. We will do our best to save each and every life," Jain tweeted.
Meanwhile, an official in the Delhi government said that as many as 2,000 normal and 1,300 ICU beds have been added in hospitals of Delhi in the past two weeks for COVID-19 patients. The official said the chief minister has been monitoring the situation and added that all efforts are being made by the Delhi government to bring down the mortality rate.
Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in the national capital, some district authorities have been setting up micro-containment zones where two or more infections have been reported for better management of the pandemic, officials said on Wednesday. Normally, an area is marked as a containment zone where three or more COVID-19 cases are detected. But it is a dynamic exercise, conducted by district authorities on a need-based manner, they said.
The Delhi Police said on Wednesday that its personnel managed to save the lives of more than 350 patients who were suffering from COVID-19 by donating them plasma. Some of the police personnel donated plasma not just once but a couple of times.