Delhi: Chief Minister says need to increase COVID-19 testing

Astha Saxena
Arvind kejriwal, coronavirus cases, COVID-19 testing, delhi news, indian express news

In Delhi, there are 56 100-bed private hospitals. These have 2,400 beds in the ICU, of which 888 are with ventilators. As much as 10% of the ventilator-beds are earmarked for the neonatal ICU. (File photo)

To deal with a possible rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the hospitals to ensure all ventilators are in working condition. During treatment of COVID-19, ventilators are crucial in case the patient’s condition deteriorates.

Kejriwal also called for more testing, along the lines of what South Korea did to contain the spread. “We need to increase our testing facilities substantially, just like Korea is doing,” he tweeted on Sunday.

In Delhi, there are 56 100-bed private hospitals. These have 2,400 beds in the ICU, of which 888 are with ventilators. As much as 10% of the ventilator-beds are earmarked for the neonatal ICU. In a meeting held on Friday, private hospitals in Delhi were told to keep beds ready for coronavirus patients, if the need arises.

Last year, the state government had informed the Delhi High Court that of at least 400 ventilators in the city’s government hospitals, 52 are non-functional. The court, while seeking to know the status of ventilators, had expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Delhi government had responded to the issue of putting online details of medical facilities available at its hospitals. The number is expected to rise as 15 government hospitals have initiated the process to procure 63 ventilators.The court was responding to a plea filed by advocate Ashok Aggarwal about three-year-old Farhan, who was suffering from a critical neurological condition. The boy, admitted to Lok Nayak hospital in January, was in dire need of the breathing apparatus but was making do with a manual resuscitator. He died on February 10, the Delhi government’s status report said.

“We have 107 functional ventilators in the hospitals at present and seven have been kept apart for COVID-19 patients. The 107 ventilators are always 100% in use. There is always a huge demand for ventilator support throughout the year,” said Dr Kishore Singh, medical director of Lok Nayak hospital.

For each ventilator, the waiting list is around 10-15 patients in every hospital, with the number growing year after year. In the absence of a ventilator, a patient’s family is handed an ambu-bag that acts as a manual ventilator. To provide oxygen support to the patient, the attendant has to push the bag so that air can go inside the body.

Safdarjung Hospital, where several coronavirus patients are admitted, is making a ‘city in a city’. A special space has been created in the super-specialty block of the hospital. There are eight floors in the building and the 3rd and 4th floors have been kept specifically for COVID-19 patients. “Seventy-five beds have now been earmarked for patients but the hospital can stretch it to 90 in case of emergency. Nine beds have been put in the ICU for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr Balvinder Singh, medical superintendent, Safdarjung hospital.

On the government’s decision to put up posters that a person or family in a residential area has been put under quarantine to warn people against visiting them, Kejriwal said: “Delhi government is marking all homes with persons advised to home quarantine. I appeal to all not to stigmatise such families. Please be empathetic and supportive towards them. The marking is aimed only at cautioning others for their own safety.”