Consistent efforts have seen a declining trend in COVID-19 infections: Delhi government to Supreme Court

Finishing touches being given at a 450 bed hospital for covid at Burari. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Delhi government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that its “consistent efforts” have seen a “declining trend” in the spread of COVID-19 infections since last week. It said the Capital was facing its third surge in cases, which started in November.

The 170-page affidavit belies an equally voluminous affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last week which squarely blamed the Arvind Kejriwal government for the “massive increase” in the infections and resultant strain on medical infrastructure. The Centre had named Delhi as one of the 10 States which contribute to almost 77% of the active caseload. This had prompted the remark from the court that States should rise above politics during the pandemic.

In its affidavit, the Delhi government met the scathing accusations of the Home Ministry with a mellow rendering of statistics to prove that it was not sleeping on the job.

Unlike the MHA affidavit, the Delhi government lauded the co-operation it received from the Union Ministries these months. In fact, the affidavit is peppered with references to the ‘guidance’ and “hand-holding” the Delhi government had got from the Centre.

Coronavirus updates December 1, 2020

One of the references includes how the Delhi government, with the “support and guidance” of the MHA, the Health Ministry, expert agencies like the NITI Aayog and the ICMR, has “successfully responded to the pandemic”. It said 13 meetings chaired by the Lieutenant Governor along with various experts, including V.K. Paul, Member of the NITI Aayog, were held to discuss the strategy. The preparedness was made under their oversight.

The Kejriwal government maintained there is a decline in the number of positive cases/positivity rate, admissions and discharges from hospitals, beds’ occupancy and active cases in Delhi. Rejecting the Centre’s claim that the Delhi government was ill-prepared for the spike in cases due to the festival season, the affidavit said the number of COVID ICU beds available in Delhi is 5,010, with an expected increase of another 1,522 beds.

The affidavit said the number of ICU beds in the government hospitals had increased from 109 on June 1 to 1,749 on November 29. Whereas, the number of the beds in the Central government hospitals in Delhi increased to only 850 as on November 29 from 89 on June 1. Even the ICU beds in private hospitals had increased from 111 on June 1 to 2,411 on November 29.

The Delhi government affidavit said it had, at the height of the festive season, ordered for the creation of 663 ICU beds. Another order was issued on November 19 to convert 80% of the ICU beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients. This would have added 249 beds. Again, a third order was passed to reserve 60% of beds in private hospitals for infected patients, increasing the number by 2,644.

The affidavit referred to how Mr. Kejriwal had written to the Union Home Minister to increase the number of ICU beds by 1,214 in the Central government hospitals like AIIMS, Safdarjung, LHMC, RML, etc. It said the Delhi government, notwithstanding this request, went ahead to approve the procurement of 1,200 of bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP), a kind of ventilator, from CSIR. It said 300 machines would arrive next week, with an equal number coming every week.

It said the RTPCR sample collection has increased substantially, and has, in fact, saturated the ICMR declared capacity of 38,000 in Delhi. The affidavit said 80,30,979 persons have been surveyed as on November 29. The survey would continue for another month.

The statistics covered Delhi’s capacity to cremate its COVID-19 victims. “As on date, Delhi is witnessing an average of 110 COVID-19 related deaths per day, whereas it possesses a capacity to cremate 415 bodies a day, with the capacity to further augment the same, if the need so arises,” it briefed the Supreme Court.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 1:52:23 AM |

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