A huge delay in receiving test results and large containment zones, are the reasons why COVID-19 positive cases are spiraling, the Delhi government told Union health ministry on Tuesday. The delay in test results, which sometimes stretch to 10 days or more, is the reason why containment zones cannot be narrowed down, the Delhi government said.
"Containment Zones are very large in size, due to which surveillance is becoming problematic and also in many cases, we are yet to receive test results of samples which were submitted," Satyender Jain told Dr Harsh Vardhan at a meeting via video conference.
The national capital has so far reported 3108 cases. 877 patients have recovered and 54 have died.
If the containment zones can be segregated and made smaller, Delhi could pass from the red into the orange zone, said Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said. Work to segregate zones has already started, which is why the number of containment zones is increasing, he said.
Of the 98 containment zones in Delhi, there are 11 where the population is more than 1 lakh. So even if the zone barricaded, there is considerable movement inside, said officials at the meeting called by Union Health Ministry to review situation in Delhi.
Doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and others who attended the meeting said the test results are being delayed because of the workload. Laboratories in Delhi are also catering to the neighbouring areas, they said, suggesting that private laboratories be roped in to speed up the testing process.
Citing an example of the current situation, officials said 77 samples were taken from Jahangirpuri area and 56 from Azadpur Mandi, but they are yet to get their results. Many areas in Jahangirpuri are waiting for results for the last 14 days.
Giving another example, an official said, "We had sent 200 samples from southwest Delhi on April 16 and we still have not got results".
"If we could get results in 24 hours like earlier, then it would be possible do a quick contract tracing and define our containment areas," said a senior official.
According to him, 80 per cent cases in Delhi are asymptomatic, meaning the patients show mild symptoms and if test results are out early, then the case load of Delhi would automatically go down.
The issue of health workers testing positive was also raised in the meeting. So far at least 4.11 per cent of health workers have been affected from COIVD-19.
"In Delhi, 13 paramedics, 26 nurses, 24 field workers and 33 doctors have been affected. This is a worrying trend," health minister said.