Delhi Health Minister says more positive cases are choosing home-isolation over hospitalization.


New Delhi: With over 7,000 coronavirus daily cases, Delhi is rapidly becoming the largest contributor towards the daily Covid-19 tally of the country. According to the state government, the national capital is witnessing a third wave of the outbreak. On 7 November, Delhi had overtaken Maharashtra and Kerala. Meanwhile, states like West Bengal, Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan continue to be the worst-hit states. Several experts are worried that the Covid situation in Delhi may aggravate after the festival season. According to reports, several shop owners in the over-crowded markets have tested Covid positive recently.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain told The Sunday Guardian that there are a lot of factors that are responsible for the spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Delhi.

“When the lockdown was lifted, people started going out since a lot of government and private offices reopened. Earlier, people avoided stepping out of their homes, but now I think after Navratri, people have started going to markets. As economic activities increased, the movement of the people also rose. This is the reason for the rise in cases, according to me. Last month, there was a meeting of the expert committee, but it was discussed there that there is a possibility of 12,000 cases per day. Yesterday, over 8,500 cases were recorded. See, it’s hard to predict the exact figures,” Jain told The Sunday Guardian.

Jain said that most of the Covid patients are at their homes and lesser people are going to hospitals now.

“If we study percentage-wise, most people are at homes. But if we look at the absolute figures as of now, 8,673 beds are occupied in Delhi. At the same time, 7,919 beds are available too, since we have increased the availability of beds with time. 15,592 beds are available in Delhi. The High Court has also vacated the stay on our order. So, more beds will be available for people in one or two days. There was some problem in ICU beds of private hospitals and the issue will be resolved soon,” Jain said.

On Thursday, the Delhi High Court vacated the stay imposed by a single judge on the reservation of 80% ICU beds in 33 private hospitals in Delhi. On the impact of rising cases on non-Covid patients, Jain said: “There will not be any issues as these are already reserved for Covid patients. Their bedding arrangement is separate. In Delhi, there are more than 60,000 beds, so except the reserved ones, all the beds are for non-Covid patients.”

“Our goal is to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread anymore. Our Home Isolation Policy has been successful. Almost 80-90% patients are in home isolation right now. Some people are non-Delhi residents as well. Some 6,000-6,500 patients are in hospitals, about 25,000 patients are in home isolation. So, there is a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 for people who are in home isolation. More people are choosing home isolation, but people who need ICU, need to hospitalised. But the issue is resolved now,” he added.

On the rise in the number of deaths, Jain said: “These deaths are also due to seasonal factors. Most of the cases are of senior citizens. Every year, in winter the death cases rise. People who have respiratory issues or other problems, their chances also increase. The thing is when there is a death and the person is positive, the death is linked to Covid. This is a very big reason. Even if people are dying due to heart attack, after death, the report shows they are Covid positive and the death gets linked to Covid, not heart attack. Things will get normal soon. So many theories have been given regarding Covid, but none of them seems to be true. I guess Covid is going to stay just like other diseases and people need to learn to live with it. We are at the peak of the third wave and probably things can get better next week; not sure but this might be the peak. The positivity rate is not increasing now.”

Dr Samiran Panda, Scientist and Head, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR, Delhi, told The Sunday Guardian: “The latest guideline is that mild cases should be treated at home. If mild cases are treated at home, naturally hospitalisation figures will go down. Mild cases used to be hospitalised in February. However, if the numbers really go high, the proportion of moderately ill and severely ill also go high. If older people, or those who have co-morbidity can get infected, then you will have to expect more severe cases or advance stage of the disease. Then you will have to go to hospital and the pressure will go up. People now know that mild cases can be dealt with at home. If more Covid patients go to hospitals, then non-Covid patients will be deprived eventually. This is called the crowding-effect. If you have a susceptible population and you are getting infected from those who are capable of transmitting the disease, then cases will rise. As the lockdown is lifted, people have started lifting their guards.”  Dr Panda also said: “The virulence rate has not changed yet. The virus mutation is less than 1%. So, we don’t have to worry about the virulence rate as of now. About the transmission, yes, we should be worried.” Last week, the Delhi High Court expressed displeasure over the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state and observed that the city could soon become the “corona capital of the country”. To make things worse, along with the dipping mercury, there has been a worsening in Delhi’s air quality too.

The Health Minister also urged people to protect themselves and follow the necessary protocols ahead of the festivals. “People need to wear masks. Till the time we have a vaccine, treat masks as your vaccine. Diwali is coming. Celebrate the festival with your loved ones, but don’t be a part of spreading the virus. People have fought dengue and won. We will win this battle as well,” Jain said.