Covid-19 surge continues in Delhi as govt scampers to add beds, oxygen, vaccines

Delhi Government has extended the ongoing lockdown till May 3, as the Covid-19 ravages the National Capital, which has one of the highest infection rates


Delhi Government has extended the ongoing lockdown till May 3, as the Covid-19 surge continues to ravage the National Capital, which has one of the highest rates of infection, and has often been reporting shortage of oxygen supplies, even in hospitals, and general shortage of hospital beds for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

On Sunday, Delhi recorded over 22,933 new Covid-19 cases and over 350 deaths. The infection rate in Delhi stated to be over 30 per cent and there are over 94,592 active cases here. According to the Delhi government’s health department, Covid-19 has claimed over 14,248 lives in Delhi till now and the case fatality rate (CFR) is now at 1.39 per cent.

On Monday, the Delhi government announced that the vaccine will be administered free of cost to all residents of Delhi, who are over 18 years of age. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the government has approved the purchase of 1.34 crore vaccines on Monday. He asked the manufacturers “to bring down the price to ₹ 150/dose” telling them that they have “an entire lifetime to earn profits but this is a time to show humanity.” He has also appealed to the Central government to cap the price of vaccines if needed.

After days of distress in the city where scores of Covid-19 patients have been running from one hospital to another, and have not been able to secure admission and access to lifesaving oxygen there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. The Radha Soami Satsang Beas has now opened its 150 Oxygen bed facility, and according to the CM this will be  there which will expand to 500 beds in the next few days and eventually 2,000 beds. It will also have 200 ICU beds.

While Kejriwal and team have visited and announced the opening the fact is that the Sardar Patel Covid Care Centre is run by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Union home ministry issued orders to re-operationalise the facility that was first opened in 2020 during the initial Covid-19 surge. It is in Chhatarpur, Delhi but there is a strict SOP for admission of patients. All patients to be referred by District Surveillance Officers (DSOs), no walk in admissions will be entertained.

The ITBP, has stated that treatment at this centre will be free of cost. Patients have begun to arrive and are being admitted after preliminary check-up conducted by ITBP doctors and paramedical staff. The helpline numbers of SPCCC are: 011-2665 5547/48/49 and 011-2665 5949/69. According to reports, a team of 50 ITBP and other organisations’ doctors, about 80 paramedics and nursing staff, security personnel of ITBP and other administrative staff are running the centre which was shut in February this year as Covid-19 cases were not rising in the national capital then.

Free vaccines in Delhi?   

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement of a free vaccine may be something that helps if all goes according to plan. However, the CM has also flagged the discrepancies in the price of the vaccine. “Different vaccine manufacturers have priced the vaccine at 400/- and 600/- rupees for state governments and at 150/- rupees for the central government. I believe that the price should be the same for everyone. I was watching the interview of one of the manufacturers who told the said interviewer that vaccination companies are profiting even at the 150/- rate at which they are providing the vaccine to the central government. If that is the case, then at 400/- and 600/- their profit margins must be huge,” said Kejriwal. He has said that the central government should cap the rate of the vaccine if needed to ensure it is made available at standardized rates to everyone.

According to news reports, the Delhi government’s health and family welfare department has issued an order signed by special secretary Udit Prakash Rai, the department asked DANICS officers posted at Delhi hospitals to physically visit the hospitals allotted to them and be in touch with the management to understand the problems over oxygen availability. The officers are told to be “the first point of contact in the allotted hospitals for oxygen requirement-related issues and to be constantly updated about the status of oxygen availability at each hospital.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi high court on Monday asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led Delhi government to set up more Covid-19 testing centres in view of the rise in cases. A bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh also asked the Delhi government to put in place necessary infrastructure to streamline the sample collection process, stated news reports. These directions were issued by the HC after several lawyers reportedly told the bench that they were facing difficulty in getting tested as labs were saying they will carry out sample collection after two to three days.


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