A few designated MCD hospitals will also be converted as dedicated facilities for Covid-19 treatment, especially for those with milder symptoms.
While the flux of people travelling to and from Delhi makes Covid control a challenge, the meeting considered the need to improve contact tracing and suggested a new survey of containment zones in the city.
Given the alarming slackness in public behaviour, a fresh campaign to urge Covid-appropriate behaviour is likely to be launched soon. After the meeting, Kejriwal said, “We have the assurance that all government agencies of both the central government and the state government will work together to tackle the Covid-19 situation in Delhi.”
Delhi has been witnessing between 7,000 and 8,000 new Covid-19 cases a day for the last 10 days and about 90 daily deaths for the last one week, with 104 people succumbing to Covid-19 on Thursday, the highest single-day toll till date. Kejriwal said 750 ICU beds would be added to the city’s capacity.
“It was also decided in the meeting that the number of tests in Delhi will increase from 60,000 per day to 1 lakh or 1.25 lakh. Delhi government facilities are working at their highest capacity right now, therefore, the ICMR has assured that they will help us to increase the number of tests,” Kejriwal said.
Shah put out a series of tweets to highlight the main decisions arrived at the meeting, outlining the fresh strategy. There will be greater deployment of health ministry or ICMR mobile testing vans in zones with high risk of infection, while ICU beds at the DRDO Covid-19 facility in Dhaula Kuan will be utilised and more beds with oxygen facility provided at the 10,000 bed Chhatarpur Covid centre.
The meeting on Sunday was attended by health minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi LG Anil Baijal, Niti Aayog member V K Paul, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava and top officials of the DRDO and Armed Forces Medical Services and senior officers of home and health ministries and Delhi government.
A presentation by Paul noted that while the case fatality rate (CFR) was still in control despite the recent rise in cases, health and medical infrastructure, such as dedicated Covid-19 beds, beds with ventilators and ICUs, were showing signs of strain
Accordingly, it was essential to enhance surveillance, strictly enforce containment measures, increase testing and rapidly build up the requisite medical infrastructure, the presentation added.
The meeting saw Shah directing that testing capacity for RT-PCR tests be doubled by optimally utilising the laboratories in Delhi and using mobile testing labs in areas where poor and vulnerable sections reside, temporarily relocating testing labs from states where they were unutilised and by utilising spare capacity in neighbouring Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon. This was considered essential to bring down the positivity rate in Delhi.
Shah directed adding of 250-300 ICU beds to the DRDO Covid hospital in Dhaula Kuan, which already has 250 ICU beds, of which only 150 are utilised.
Also, more beds with oxygen will be created at the 10,000-bed Chhatarpur Covid centre.