While COVID-19 cases have started seeing a decline, in India's worst affected cities the deaths are still high because many of those who are in intensive care units or ICUs are still succumbing to the disease.
In Delhi, Covid cases have come down by 75 per cent in the last 10 days but deaths have reduced by only 27 per cent. On May 10, there were 12,651 cases and 319 deaths. Today, 10 days later, 3,231 cases and 233 deaths have been reported.
At Delhi's biggest private hospital chain, Max Hospitals, more than 30,000 patients have been admitted in the second wave since April first week.
"There is a very stark contrast from last wave. Last time we had a monthly mortality rate of 6 per cent. This time it's 7.6 per cent, especially the below 45 age group. Their percentage of hospitalisation is the same as last year at 28 per cent. But their mortality has increased from 2 per cent to 4 per cent this time. In the 45 age group, mortality rate has increased from 7-9 per cent to 9-11 per cent this time," Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director of Max Healthcare, told NDTV.
Officials of Delhi's biggest Covid dedicated hospital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, run by the Delhi government, say late hospitalisations has played a role.
"6,500 patients came to the hospital for admission since the first week of April and 20-25 per cent of those died. High fatality rate is because people in Delhi struggled for hospital beds and also because there was panic about oxygen. Many patients stayed at home till the last stage using oxygen cylinders instead of going to hospitals. Hospitalisations were late and that caused higher deaths," said Dr Ritu Saxena, head of emergency at LNJP Hospital.
In Mumbai, cases have come down by 25 per cent in the last 10 days, and deaths have also reduced by 23 per cent. On May 10, there were 1,794 cases and 74 deaths in Mumbai. Today, there were 1,425 cases and 59 deaths.
"In the second wave, a substantial number of people that we are seeing are taking longer to recover than in the first wave. It's not just people with comorbidities who are in ICU, but even young and healthy people who are taking over three weeks to recover. Many are even on ventilator for 10-14 days. It's mainly because the severity of the disease is greater this time," said Dr Rahul Pandit, Director of Critical Care at Fortis Hospitals Mumbai. Dr Pandit is also member of the Maharashtra COVID-19 task force.
Dr Behram Pardiwala, Head of Medicine Department and Director of Academics, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, said, "Our ICU mortality rate is about 10-12 per cent. There is a lot of difference from the first wave. Not only are much younger patients getting infected but this time virulence is also higher. This time if one person gets it then the whole family gets it. This did not happen in the first wave."
To tackle the issue of handling critical patients, both the centre and state governments have been increasing the number of ICU beds and medical oxygen production. But it could take a few more days or weeks to see a clear impact of these measures.