The number of COVID-19 deaths in Delhi is shooting up. Delhi recorded 83 deaths yesterday. This is the second-highest number of deaths recorded in the capital. The last time deaths were this high was on June 16 when Delhi recorded 93 deaths. The city also recorded its highest daily spike in cases with 7,830 new cases yesterday.
Delhi has been reporting a daily average of 70 deaths for the last seven days. In the previous week, the number stood at 42.
Experts say Delhi's pollution levels could be among the reasons. Dr Vikas Maurya, Director of Pulmonology at Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh said, "Earlier we used to have more moderate cases but now we have more severe cases. Hospital beds in Delhi are getting filled up and that is causing delayed arrival of patients. This is increasing mortality. And there are studies that show air pollution increases mortality as Covid is a respiratory disease."
The Delhi High Court today pulled up the Delhi government and asked what steps it was taking to control the spike. The high court noted that Delhi, a city-state, is beating Kerala and Maharashtra in the number of COVID-19 infections. The court said that Delhi's latest serosurvey report indicates that "No household has been left untouched" by the infection as one in every four persons in Delhi has been infected by COVID-19.
While other states are imposing restrictions, the Delhi government is relaxing all norms, allowing 200 people to attend public functions instead of reducing the number and permitting public transportation to be fully occupied. The court said that these could turn into "super spreaders" of the infection.
The Delhi government has started "targeted testing" in markets to control the situation. Shopkeepers, the staff of restaurants are being tested keeping the festive rush in mind and most tests being conducted are RT-PCR tests.
When NDTV visited a Delhi government testing kiosk in Connaught Place market today, there was a long line of shopkeepers for testing.
Vikram Badhwar, General Secretary (NDTA) New Delhi Traders Association said, "Today is the third day of testing in CP. There are long queues in the evening. A very small percentage of those getting tested have been confirmed positive so far. On Monday, there were about 100 tests out of which only 10 tested positive. Then on Tuesday, 15 were confirmed positive out of the nearly 200 people who were tested. We are requesting all shopkeepers to get tested. If the general public wants to get tested, then the service is free for them too. Sanitisation is being carried out across the market by the market association and masks and sanitisers are being distributed to all shopkeepers by us."
Satyendar Jain, Delhi Health Minister, said, "Three times more tests are being done now as compared to the last peak. No doubt the third peak is here. We hope that cases will fall in the next couple of days. 17,000 RT-PCR tests were conducted yesterday. We have increased testing."
The Delhi government also passed orders today and has banned all public celebrations for Chhath Puja which is supposed to take place between 18-20 November.
The pace at which hospital beds have been filling up has also been a matter of concern. Currently, 50 per cent of Delhi's regular Covid beds and 80 per cent of ICU beds are occupied.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today wrote a letter to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan asking for an increase of 1,092 beds in central government hospitals including 300 ICU beds. In the letter, he has referred to the National Centre for Disease Control report of October 8 which projected that Delhi may see up to 15,000 daily Covid cases in winter.