Delhi COVID situation: Officials to ensure home isolation norms strictly followed; RT-PCR testing capacity raised to 37,000 per day

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) Amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the national capital, the Delhi government has directed district health teams to visit patients under home isolation to ensure that they follow all norms, while the RT-PCR testing capacity has been raised to over 37,000 tests a day.

As many as 411 ICU beds have been added in hospitals run by the Delhi government and the Centre in the last five days, a move that comes against the backdrop of the AAP dispensation announcing reservation of 80 percent of ICU beds in the city's private hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

'Several private hospitals have also added more ICU beds after they were told to reserve 80 percent of them for COVID-19 patients,' an official said.

A day after raising the penalty for various violations, the Delhi Police on Saturday imposed the fine of Rs 2,000 on more than 1,300 people till 4 PM in the city.

The national capital has witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28, when the daily caseload breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and recorded the highest single-day spike of 8,593 cases on November 11.

Delhi recorded 5,879 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday and a positivity rate of 12.90 percent, while 111 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,270, authorities said.

These fresh cases came out of the 45,562 tests conducted on Friday, including 21,845 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday said that the Indian Council of Medical Research has increased the capacity of daily RT-PCR tests in Delhi to 37,200 following the direction of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

'ICMR has increased RT-PCR testing capacity from 27,000 tests/day to 37,200 RT-PCR tests per day on directions of HM @AmitShah. 30,735 RT-PCR samples were collected in Delhi on 19 Nov as compared to 12,055 RT-PCR samples on 15 Nov. the spokesperson tweeted.

The Delhi government has directed district officials to visit COVID-19 patients under home isolation and ensure that they follow isolation rules.

In an order, the health department said contact tracing should be paid proper attention. It should be ensured that the contacts traced are subjected to immediate testing and kept under effective isolation until the test result comes.

'Analysis of cases emerging from entertainment areas, markets, workplaces and metro-like services should be immediately conducted to identify possible clusters and immediate containment measures should be initiated,' stated the order issued last week.

It stated that all cases of symptomatic negatives of rapid antigen tests should be re-tested with follow-up RT-PCR tests, which are considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing.

'Patients under home isolation should be regularly evaluated and physically visited by health teams to ensure proper adherence to isolation standards,' the order stated said.

There have been some instances where coronavirus patients under home isolation were found not following the norms.

According to the order, district authorities should identify more human resources such as civil defence volunteers and municipal sanitary inspectors and deploy them to enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour.

The Delhi government on Friday issued a notification, saying that spitting and consumption of tobacco in public places, violation of COVID-19 quarantine rules, not wearing of masks and not maintaining social distancing would attract a fine of Rs 2,000.

According to official data shared by the police, out of the 1,358 challans issued on Saturday, 1,306 were for not wearing mask violation, one for spitting and 51 to those found violating social-distancing norms.

As compared to Friday, there has been a decrease in the number of challans issued on Saturday. A total of 2,507 challans were issued on Friday for various violations under COVID-19 guidelines.

'We have received the notification and have started issuing challans as per the new directives,' said Anil Mittal, Additional PRO (Delhi Police).

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan inaugurated a blood donation camp in the city and said donating blood is a great virtue which has health benefits too.

Vardhan thanked the Delhi BJP and its youth wing for coming forward to pledge 500 units of blood at a time when routine donation has dipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The camp was held at the Indian Red Cross Society headquarters.

'Voluntary blood donation is a great virtue as it saves life. It also lowers the risk of heart ailments and blood pressure,' he said.

The national capital recorded 6,608 fresh COVID-19 cases in a day, taking the infection tally on Friday to over 5.17 lakh, while 118 more fatalities during the same period pushed the death toll to 8,159. The positivity rate was 10.59 percent. PTI GVS AMP VIT BUN RT

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