Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal has reassured the public that the government is fully prepared to handle any COVID spread in Delhi. The CM asserted that the residents of Delhi need not worry as the state government is ready to face any eventuality. For now there is no Government mandate to wear masks in public places. However, patients with influenza and respiratory diseases have been advised to wear masks.
Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal had chaired a high-level meeting on Friday to review the COVID-19 preparations of the state government. The meeting came amid a spike in cases in the last two weeks. The meeting was attended by Health Minister Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj, Revenue Minister Shri Kailash Gahlot, Chief Secretary and concerned officials of various departments. During the meeting, officials apprised the CM of the state’s preparedness in terms of hospital beds, oxygen capacity, testing & prevention measures.
Notably, the central government has identified six states where corona cases are increasing rapidly, but Delhi has not been named among them. Most of the cases in Delhi are of the XBB 1.16 variant, which is not serious but can still spread even after getting vaccinated. Therefore, the government is conducting genome sequencing of all cases to detect any new variant of Corona. Random screening of 2% passengers is also being done at the airport. The government has the capacity to conduct more than one lakh RTPCR tests in government and private hospitals. Additionally, 7986 beds are ready for Corona patients in Delhi and only 66 beds are occupied as of date. The CM also shared that Delhi Government will follow whatever guidelines come from the central government.
Addressing a press conference after the review meeting, Shri Arvind Kejriwal emphasised that everything was under control and there was no need for the citizens to panic regarding the COVID-19 situation. He added that on Thursday, the Health Minister Shri Saurabh Bhardwaj had held a meeting with senior officials of the department and other health experts and today he also reviewed this issue.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal said that if we look at the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, then two weeks ago the Central Government identified six states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana – where there was a spike in COVID-19 cases and these states were asked to take precautions. Although Delhi is not in this list, the state government has decided to take all possible precautions.
He said that on 15th March there were 42 positive cases of Covid-19 reported on the day, but a fortnight later on 30th March this spiked to 295 cases. The active case tally of Delhi is 932 at the moment. Yesterday in Delhi, a total of 2,363 tests were conducted.
The Delhi CM said that although there was no reason to worry at the moment, the state government has decided to be proactive regarding the issue. He also added that there have been three deaths so far – two deaths took place on March 29th, and the other death was a few days before that.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal stressed that in all the three cases of deaths, the patients had comorbidities, which were the main reason for the demise of the patient. He pointed out that in one of the deaths, the patient was hospitalised for a few months due to a kidney transplant. He also added that two out of these three patients were not residents of Delhi.
The Delhi CM said that all the cases of COVID-19 are being sent for genome sequencing, so that the state government can stay a step ahead in case there is a new variant of the virus. He said that the most dominant variant at the moment was XBB.1.16. He said that 48 percent of the cases in Delhi were found to have this variant and even in the other cases, traces of this variant were found.
Giving further details, Shri Arvind Kejriwal said that one of the main qualities of this particular variant was that it is highly infectious but at the same time it is not very serious. So severity in these cases is less. But he also added that it is invasive despite immunisation. So, a person could have taken their Covid-19 vaccines and they could still test positive for this variant.
He highlighted that in Delhi to stay a step ahead, the sewage is also tested in 6-7 places for samples of COVID-19 and said that until mid-February none of the sewage samples were found to be infected. But since then some of the samples of sewage have also tested positive for the virus.
Despite all of this, the CM said that Delhi was prepared for the battle against COVID-19 if the infections happen to increase. He added that there were a total of 7,986 beds already kept ready in Delhi, including oxygen beds, ventilator beds and ICU beds. Out of these only 66 beds are occupied at the moment, he added. He also said that the state government was ready to increase testing if required, and added that 4,000 tests per day can be conducted in government facilities. Beside this, there is a capacity to conduct over 1 lakh tests per day in private facilities.
Giving details about the status of vaccination in Delhi, the CM said, “The status of vaccination in Delhi is higher than the national average. Nearly everyone above the age of 18 years has been vaccinated and 100 percent of those below the age of 18 years have got the first dose of vaccination. Nearly 85 percent have also received the second dose. The Delhi Government also has a sufficient number of ambulances and sufficient oxygen and its storage capacity,” he said.
The CM added that on March 26th, the Delhi Government conducted a mock drill to check the status of 38 government hospitals in Delhi and the functioning of all the apparatus. He further said that on April 10-11, a mock drill will be conducted in all the government and private hospitals to check their readiness to fight COVID-19, as per the directives of Central government.
He said that the state government will soon run a campaign on this and will also encourage the citizens to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. “Two percent of the passengers at the Delhi airport will be randomly tested for COVID-19. All the hospitals under the Delhi Government have been asked to have isolation wards for COVID-19 patients. All patients who are coming to a hospital with any issues or respiratory illnesses will be provided masks upon entering and they will all be tested for Covid-19. Five percent of all patients with influenza-like symptoms coming to hospital will also be tested,” he said.