MCD gears up for 3rd wave: Medical infra being augmented; mass media campaigns raising awareness

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New Delhi, Jul 18 (PTI) From strengthening healthcare infrastructure to mass media campaigns to raise awareness on Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination, civic bodies in Delhi are making preparations in anticipation of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials of all three municipal corporations said the first and second waves had stretched the system to its limits, from hospitals to crematoriums, and so efforts are being made to ensure the scenario does not repeat.

'We are focusing on the vaccination drive and 5.75 lakh people have been vaccinated at our centres till date. We pray that the situation does not worsen again, but we are prepared for the worst,' South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan told PTI.

He said vaccination is a major shield to protect people from the third wave, but 'soon we will run mass media campaigns, including on radio to bring awareness about Covid safety norms, besides vaccination'.

'Our auto-tippers (garbage-carrying mini-trucks) are already spreading the message on vaccination through public address systems installed on the vehicles. Pamphlets will also be distributed to generate more awareness in market places and office areas on the importance of wearing masks and social distancing,' the South Delhi mayor said.

Soon, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) will also come up with a thematic radio jingle, which would be played on FM stations to raise awareness, he added.

In April-May, Delhi was hit by a brutal second wave of the pandemic, which claimed a number of lives every day, and oxygen supply shortage was reported at various hospitals, adding to woes of people.

Both daily cases and single-day death count had started spiralling up from April 19, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22. On May 3, the city registered a record 448 deaths, according to official data.

Hospitals saw family members scrambling for beds, while morgues and crematoriums were pushed to their limits due to high number of fatalities. Visuals of mass cremation taking place in east Delhi's Seemapuri were heart-wrenching.

Despite a fall in daily cases in the last several days, medical experts have cautioned that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was imminent.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had asserted that his government was preparing on a 'war-footing' to combat it.

Civic bodies have also developed plans to deal with a third wave, if the situation arises.

East Delhi Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal said the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has planned to increase the number of beds at its Swami Dayanand Hospital, which is used as a Covid facility.

'Since third wave is likely to hit children more, so we are trying to better equip the paediatric department with ventilators and other medical equipment. Besides, we have planned to reserve more platforms at our crematoriums, in case the situation deteriorates,' he said.

Major crematoriums in east Delhi are at Seemapuri, Karkardooma and Ghazipur.

'During the second wave, we had already augmented the number of platforms at these sites to 164 in total from 35 earlier. Besides, we have four CNG-based furnaces, and plan is to add four more, so that more bodies can be cremated in a day,' Aggarwal told PTI.

In south Delhi, the major cremation sites are at Punjabi Bagh, Dwarka, Rajghat and Tilak Nagar.

'We also plan to create temporary cremation sites so that extra load if any, can be diverted, and non-Covid death cases can be accommodated, while the big sites, like at Punjabi Bagh can be fully dedicated for Covid funerals,' South Delhi mayor Suryan said.

North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) too is preparing to meet the impending challenge.

North Delhi Mayor Raja Iqbal Singh has said that saving Delhi from the anticipated third wave of the COVID-19, would be among his priorities, besides, sanitation, education and health.

All three mayors were elected unopposed mid-June, taking over reins from their predecessors, who led the civic teams during the second wave of the pandemic.

Former mayor Jai Prakash, days before the mayoral election in June, had said that the north corporation has begun work on augmenting medical infrastructure at its various health facilities and a new ward equipped with 10 ventilators, has been inaugurated at the Hindu Rao Hospital, the largest civic hospital in Delhi. Prakash had then said that six such wards would be made at the Hindu Rao Hospital where all facilities, including ventilators will be available.

The ex-mayor had said that 166 ventilator beds are available at NDMC hospitals, out of which 20 are old ventilators and 146 are new ones.

Work of setting up an oxygen plant would be completed in about two months, he had said.

Prakash on May 31 had said that a separate 100-bed coronavirus facility, especially for children was coming up at the Mrs Girdhar Lal Maternity Hospital.

Over 14 lakh cases and more than 25,000 deaths have been reported in the national capital till date due to Covid, according to official data. With close gathering of shoppers in markets and restaurants resuming business amid phased unlock in the national capital, doctors have cautioned that Delhi could face a 'worse than second wave situation' of COVID-19 if people do not adhere to safety norms or if they lower their guards. PTI KND ANB ANB

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