New Delhi, Nov 4 (PTI) The Delhi government has started conducting targeted COVID-19 tests in markets and other crowded areas to strengthen its surveillance mechanism, the city's Heath Minister Satyendar Jain said on Wednesday amid a surge in daily coronavirus cases in the national capital in the last few days.
Delhi recorded over 6,700 fresh COVID-19 cases for the first time on Tuesday taking the infection tally in the national capital to over four lakh, while the positivity rate was recorded at 11.29 per cent amid festive season and rise pollution levels.
Interacting with reporters, Jain said, the current pandemic situation in the national capital, can be termed as its 'third wave'.
In a high-level meeting on Monday, chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, the current COVID-19 situation was discussed threadbare.
It was decided to concentrate efforts in certain key areas, such as targeted RT-PCR testing in sensitive and critical zones such as restaurants, market places, barber shops and salons; gear up the availability of medical resources including beds, ICUs, and ventilators as a preemptive measure and ensure high degree of contact tracing along with monitoring of quarantined contacts so as to suppress and break the chain of transmission, the statement said.
Jain told reporters, 'Targeted testing has started in market places and other densely crowded areas'. Asked if there theses tests will be all RT-PCR ones, he replied RT-PCR tests will also be increased.
According to a source in Delhi government's health department, in targeted testing, samples are collected at regular intervals from a restaurant or a market place in an area from where high number of cases are getting recorded or where safety protocols may not have been adhered to diligently.
As to why COVID-19 cases in Delhi are rising whereas it is showing a declining trend elsewhere, he said, 'We are doing aggressive testing and contact tracing. These may be why daily cases are high. About other places, I cannot comment.' Jain also acknowledge that he was getting reports that many people were either lax in adhering to safety norms or not wearing masks at all.
On the issue of reservation of 80 per cent ICU beds in some private hospitals, the minister said, 'The high court has put a stay on it, so we are going to appeal in the Supreme Court.' Around 800 extra ICU beds would have been available otherwise, he added.
Jain also said in the initial days of the pandemic, more cases were coming from congested areas.
'This time, more cases are being recorded in upper-middle class and middle class segments, and they have an inclination to go to private hospitals. But treatment protocols are same in private and government hospitals. Beds are available in government facilities,' he said.
According to experts, if a person removes his facemask in a public place and the prescribed distance of two metre is not followed, then transmissibility of coronavirus increases.
But the safe distance of two metre is difficult to maintain in market areas especially during the festive season, they said.
Delhi had recorded over 5,000 daily cases for five days on the trot, ending Sunday when the count stood at 5,664. The number of containment zones in Delhi increased to 3,453 on Tuesday from 3,416 the previous day.
The sudden spike in cases comes amid festive season and rising pollution level. While Durga Puja celebrations ended on October 25, the next major festivals are Diwali and Chhath in November.
The National Centre for Disease Control in a report drafted recently had warned that Delhi needs to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 per day taking into account the upcoming winter season-related respiratory problems, large influx of patients from outside and festive gatherings. PTI KND NSD