With 3,788 fresh cases, Delhi's coronavirus tally rose to over 70,000 on Wednesday, surpassing Mumbai to become the worst hit city in the country, even as authorities prepared to conduct a house-to-house screening by July 6 as part of a revised containment strategy in the national capital.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also requested the Centre to withdraw the new system requiring assessment of every COVID-19 patient at a government-run facility, an issue on which the Lieutenant Governor and the AAP government have been having disagreement.
Kejriwal said if the administration and police forcibly take patients to COVID care centres for their clinical assessment, it will be like holding them in detention for 15 days.
With 64 fresh fatalities, the death toll has climbed to 2,635. Delhi has reported the highest number of cases and deaths after Maharashtra. The total number of coronavirus cases stood at 70,390 in the national capital.
Of the four metropolitan cities, Delhi now has the highest number of cases. The coronavirus cases in Mumbai stood at 69,625 and the death toll at 3,962. Chennai has recorded, 45,814 cases so far, while Kolkata had 4,896 cases until Tuesday.
Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court observed that Delhi is heading towards becoming the corona capital of the country.
Since last six days, Delhi has recorded 3,402 cases on an average daily. The national capital has 26,588 active cases.
In its revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on COVID-19 response plan, based on recommendations of a panel headed by Niti Aayog member Prof. V K Paul, AIIMS Director and ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava, house-to-house screening will be done in the national capital by July 6. The revised SOP was issued on June 22.
The plan also has deadlines for carrying out various tasks. According to it, a review and designing of containment zones should be done by June 26. Similarly, a house-to-house screening and response should be conducted by June 30 in containment zones.
A sero-survey in the national capital will start from June 27 and should be completed by July 10. Under this survey, 20,000 tests are planned to be done across the city and people of all age groups.
As per the new COVID-response plan, an-PCR test will be conducted for highly suspicious cases in containment zones which test negative on Rapid Antigen Test.
A day after urging the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to scrap the new system requiring every COVID-19 patient to visit a government-run centre for clinical assessment, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia took up the matter with Home Minister Amit Shah.
Last week, Baijal had issued an order making it mandatory for every new COVID-19 patient to undergo five-day institutional quarantine. It was later amended after opposition from the AAP government.
Every coronavirus patient is now required to visit a care centre for clinical assessment to ascertain whether he requires hospitalisation or home isolation.Arguing that the new system puts pressure on the government's facilities with the rising number of cases, Sisodia, in a letter to Shah, said there would be chaos in the city in the next few days if it was not scrapped.
On the issue, Kejriwal said, "The Delhi government, Centre and other organisations have been working in cooperation with each other. I request the Centre to roll back the order."
If a COVID-19 patient has a fever of 103 F, he will also have to stand in long queues at government-run centres under the new system, Kejriwal said, asking whether a system should work like this.
Kejriwal said there are two models in Delhi --- Shah's model which requires every COVID-19 patient to visit a COVID care centre and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's model under which medical teams of district administrations go to the homes of infected persons to check on them. This is not a fight between Shah's model and Kejriwal's model, he said, adding that there should be a system in which people don't face problems.
He said the Union home minister himself is overseeing measures being taken to deal with the COVID-19 situation. "I request the Union home minister with folded hands to scrap the new system as people have been facing a lot of problems," Sisodia said at the online media briefing.
On Tuesday, 19,059 tests were conducted in the national capital. Delhi has ramped up the tests, especially after the Rapid Antigen methodology was introduced to do the diagnosis. As efforts continue to increase the number of beds, the first patient to be admitted to the Railways' isolation coaches facility in Delhi arrived at the Shakur Basti station, and around 15 more are expected, officials said.
Around 50 such modified coaches are currently stationed at the Shakur Basti railway station maintenance depot, the officials said, adding that each coach has 16 beds. Only suspected cases will be kept here, they said.
Meanwhile, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police took over a 10,000 bed capacity COVID-19 care centre in Delhi, officials said. A team of officials from the border guarding force visited the Radha Soami Beas facility and held discussions with the Delhi government and other stakeholders who will be partners in running the centre.
(With inputs from PTI)