While the rest of the country is in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic, Delhi which is battling the “fourth wave”, logged its highest single-day spike of 13,468 new infections on Tuesday, making it the worst affected city in the country.
The development comes amid hospitals in the national capital running out of beds for Covid-19 patients and with the AAP government converting 14 private hospitals and many government hospitals into “full Covid-19” centres.
With Tuesday’s addition of infections, the city’s Covid-19 positivity rate surged to 13.14 per cent from 12.44 per cent.
Delhi also recorded 81 new fatalities on Tuesday, its highest Covid-19 toll since December 3 when 82 deaths were reported. The national capital had recorded 131 Covid-19 deaths on November 19, the highest single-day fatality count till date.
From April 4 to April 13, Delhi has recorded 77,775 Covid-19 cases, witnessing a massive rise of 234 per cent. During the same period, 376 people have died due to the disease.
Meanwhile, the highest single-day spike in Mumbai stands at 9,986 cases till date, followed by Bengaluru (6,387 cases), Chennai (2,105) and Kolkata (1,271 cases).
In the wake of the exponential rise in coronavirus cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the Centre to cancel the Class 10 and 12 board exams and explore alternative methods, including online exams.
Warning that conducting the exams may contribute to the large-scale spread of the virus, he said the centres could emerge as major hotspots.
"Six lakh children in Delhi are going to write CBSE exams. Nearly one lakh teachers will be a part of it. These (the centres) can become major hotspots leading to large-scale spreading of corona. Children's lives and health are very important to us. I request the Centre to cancel the CBSE exams," he said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The CBSE Class 10 and 12 exams are scheduled to begin on May 4. With the exponential increase in coronavirus cases, the chorus for cancellation or postponing the board exams is growing.
Meanwhile, as the coronavirus disease continue to spiral in the city, Kejriwal said plasma stocks to treat Covid-19 patients are running very low and appealed to those who have recovered from the infection to be proactive in donating it.
"This (fourth) wave is very dangerous. According to data of last 10-15 days, 65 per cent of patients are below 45 years of age. Your health and life are very important to us. So, I would like to appeal to the youth to step out of the house only when it is necessary and follow all COVID protocols," Kejriwal told a press conference earlier in the day.
He also appealed to people whose condition improves to shift to home isolation so beds can be utilised for patients in severe condition.
"We need to also bring the hospital management within a system of efficient planning. For example, we are now monitoring each and every patient within the hospital. If doctors feel that a particular patient can be cured from home, they are being requested to go back home. This is not the hospital or the government shirking from responsibility, not at all.
"We will provide such patients with an oximeter, our doctors will be calling them regularly to keep a check. We will monitor their situation even at home and bring them back to the hospital if the need be," he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has directed health facilities to strictly follow admission protocol while admitting coronavirus patients and said mild or asymptomatic cases can be considered for home isolation
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said that severe cases involving respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation should be admitted to a dedicated COVID hospital.
The government has warned of action for failure in adherence to laid down admission protocol.
In an order issued last week, the Directorate General of Health Services said that it has been observed that hospitals are admitting mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 which are not in line with the prescribed admission protocol.
According to official records, 7,731 beds have been occupied by Covid-19 patients till Tuesday while there were 21,954 people in home isolation in the national capital.
In Delhi, the cumulative coronavirus case count stands at 7,50,156, and the death toll is now 11,436, according to the latest health bulletin.
On Tuesday, 13,468 cases came out of the over 1.02 lakh tests conducted the previous day. The city had reported 11,491 cases and 72 deaths on Monday. 10,772 cases and 48 deaths were recorded on Sunday.
Delhi recorded 7,897 Covid-19 cases and 39 deaths on Saturday. The positivity rate had also mounted to 10.21 per cent, breaching the 10-per cent mark for the first time this year. The positivity rate was above 15 per cent in mid-November last year.
As coronavirus cases surge in Delhi, private laboratories, which are conducting more tests than ever, say they are losing important time in manually uploading data on the ICMR website.
Dr Gauri Agarwal from Genestring Labs, responsible for conducting Covid-19 testing at the Delhi airport, said they are doing around 8,000 tests daily.
“Manpower and data entry is a challenge. Many times, the entire system has to be realigned if workers get infected,” she said.
A day after the Delhi government declared 14 private hospitals as "full Covid-19" facilities, these health centres on Tuesday were trying to accommodate existing non-COVID patients for the lack of clearer instructions.
These included Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in Sarita Vihar, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, Max SS Hospital and Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh.
(With PTI inputs)