Authorities in Delhi on Saturday started a mammoth task of conducting serological survey to comprehensively analyse the spread of COVID-19 as the number of cases in the national capital crossed the 80,000 mark.
Addressing an online briefing, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asserted that there is no shortage of beds for COVID-19 patients in Delhi as of now, saying his government has significantly raised the number of beds in the past one month and diagnosis has been ramped up to 20,000 tests per day.
He said “five weapons” are being used by his government in the fight against coronavirus besides ramping up number of beds — testing and isolation, providing oximeters and oxygen concentrators, plasma therapy, screening and survey.
Kejriwal and Union Home Minister Amit Shah also visited Radha Saomi Satsang, a 10,000-bed facility in south Delhi and reviewed the centre which will be maintained by the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP).
The national capital recorded 2,948 fresh coronavirus cases in a 24-hour span since Friday, taking the total case count 80,188. The death toll went up to 2,588 with 66 more fatalities reported. There are 28,329 active cases in the national capital.
After June 22, it was for the first time that the number of daily cases fell below the 3,000-mark in the city.
As cases continued to rise, the Delhi government and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) started serological survey in the national capital. Part of the revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the survey has to be completed by July 10.
Kejriwal said the survey will cover 20,000 people and determine the extent of coronavirus spread in Delhi.
The survey started in the Central district, officials said, adding that the response was good from the public and 450 blood samples were collected on the first day. The target for the day was to collect 700 samples, the official said, adding that the district has deployed 30 teams comprising ASHA workers and lab technicians for collecting samples.
The survey also began at Kewal Park area in north Delhi, a north district official said. The official added that the emphasis was on putting logistics to the ground. The response of the people will be known in the next two-three days. Nine teams have been formed to complete the survey, the official said.
In Southwest district, the collection of samples commenced in some areas but will start in full swing from Sunday, an official said.
According to an official from East district, the NCDC would train lab technicians on how to collect samples on Saturday and they were likely to commence the exercise from Monday. Similarly, in the Southeast district, the survey did not start on Saturday as logistics were being worked out.
An official from Northeast district said the survey has not yet begun there and will begin from Monday.
Two house-to-house surveys – one in the containment zones and another across the national capital – are also being conducted by the Delhi government.
In his online briefing, Kejriwal said the coronavirus spread faster than it was expected to do in Delhi, after lifting of lockdown restrictions, and death figures rose in initial days due to lack of required bed facility for infected patients.
By May 15, coronavirus spread very rapidly and from first week of June, there was shortage of beds and testing. Since there was shortage of beds, the death figure also started rising, he said.
“Earlier I received phone calls for beds late in the night. That has stopped now. Currently there is no shortage of beds for corona patients but we are still ramping up the beds that could be needed in future,” he said.
The government had option to either continue lockdown or fight the virus and it chose the second after consulting people.
On adding the number of beds, Kejriwal said the government took decision to attach hotels to hospitals, and created 3,500 beds in these hotels. At Radha Soami Satsang premises, arrangements for 2,000 beds are complete. Ten thousand beds will be arranged at the earliest, he said.
Also, at Delhi government’s Burari hospital, 450 beds beds have been arranged, he said.
The Union Health Ministry said a 1,000-bed full-fledged hospital for COVID-19 patients in Delhi, developed by DRDO and to be manned by doctors and paramedical staff from the Army would be functional next week from an area near Dhaula Kuan.
To bolster COVID-19 management efforts in the national capital, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has supplied diagnostic material for carrying out 4.7 lakh RT-PCR tests to the 12 functional labs in Delhi till date, the Health Ministry said.
It has provided 1.57 lakh RNA extraction kits essential for carrying out tests and 2.84 lakh VTMs (Viral Transport Medium) used for collecting and transporting swabs to laboratories, it added.