Delhi sees 1,534 new Covid cases on Saturday, hospitalisations remain low

Even as the incidence of Covid continues to remain high in the capital with 1,534 new cases recorded on Saturday, hospitals say there is no need to increase the number of beds earmarked for the treatment of the infection as hospitalisations continue to be low. The number of active cases or those with current infection has shot to 5,119, however, just more than 200 people are hospitalised, according to the daily health bulletin released by the government.

There are currently 9,500 hospital beds reserved for the treatment of Covid across Delhi hospitals, of which only 240 or 2.5% are occupied, according to the government’s DelhiFightsCorona portal.

The positivity rate stood at 7.71% on Saturday. The number had crossed the 8%-mark on Friday for the first time since January-end when the country’s omicron variant-driven third wave was subsiding. The positivity rate, which is the proportion of samples tested that return positive, is indicative of the spread of an infection in an area, with the World Health Organisation considering a positivity rate of 5% or less over two weeks to mean that the spread is under control.

However, the current positivity rate might not reflect the real situation on the ground as people have started testing for the infection at home after the home kits became available earlier this year.

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“Now a majority of people come with already confirmed home tests; this might not be reflected in the numbers. However, people who test negative on the kits do get an RT PCR,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant of internal medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospital.

This, along with the government guidelines discouraging asymptomatic tests, has been the reason for fewer tests being conducted. There were 18,422 tests conducted on average daily in June as compared to an average of 70,246 tests conducted each day in January, with the total crossing the 1 lakh mark at least on two instances.

Delhi recorded 1,797 new cases of the infection on Friday, which is higher than the number of cases recorded this April when the city saw a slight spike in cases after mask mandates were done away with. All Covid restrictions were re-introduced and the numbers started going down, but not to the level seen after the third wave waned. The number of new cases in the city started increasing again ten days ago.

Nevertheless, hospitalisation and mortality haven’t increased proportionally, with city doctors claiming that the pattern is the same as was seen during the milder omicron variant-driven third wave. “At the moment we have 20 patients admitted with Covid, of whom only one person needs the ventilator support. And, that too because he has tuberculosis along with viral pneumonia caused by the virus. Most patients just have a fever and upper respiratory symptoms,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak hospital.

The hospital, which is one of the biggest Covid treatment centres in Delhi, already has 450 beds earmarked for the infection. “There is no need to increase any more beds; we are hardly seeing any admissions due to Covid,” he said.

Most other hospitals have earmarked a couple of wards for Covid with other beds being utilised for the treatment of other patients. “Now, we already know how to ensure no mixing of Covid and non-Covid patients. So, it can easily be done if cases increase. Right now one ward is being used for Covid patients as the numbers continue to be low,” said a doctor from the government’s Burari hospital that was operationalized during Covid.

There have been 18 deaths from the infection in June and 35 deaths in May. City doctors, however, say in most cases, the deaths were in patients who were receiving treatment for other conditions and the finding of Covid was incidental.

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