Delhi’s Covid-19 cases hit 1 million

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An unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases in Delhi in its fourth wave – the worst so far – pushed the number of total infections in the national capital so far past the one million-mark, with the latest 250,000 cases coming in just 11 days as the city’s health care infrastructure creaked under the massive caseload and hospitals made urgent appeals for life-saving supplies.

On Saturday, Delhi reported 24,103 cases and record 357 deaths. The positivity rate – the proportion of tests that are positive for Covid-19 – continued to soar at 32.27%, with nearly one out of every three samples tested across the Capital returning positive.

The authorities scrambled to get oxygen tanks to hospitals where Covid-19 patients were gasping amid the world’s worst Covid-19 surge, as many criticised alleged government negligence over the public health crisis spiralling out of control.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged his counterparts in other states to provide oxygen to the national capital, saying all available resources were proving to be inadequate owing to the severity of the latest surge. “I am writing to all CMs requesting them to provide oxygen to Delhi, if they have spare. Though Central govt is also helping us, the severity of corona is such that all available resources are proving inadequate,” Kejriwal tweeted.

The first case was reported in Delhi on March 2 last year. It took 419 days for the tally to touch one million. While the first 250,000 cases took 205 days, the second 250,000 cases came in 57 days – Delhi’s tally crossed the half-million mark on November 18, 2020.

From there, as the pace of infections came under control, the third phase slowed down considerably – it took 146 days for the tally to cross 750,000.

However, pushed by the mammoth surge of infections in recent weeks, it took only 11 days for the latest 250,000 cases.

Across the country, 349,158 infections were reported on Saturday. The active cases in the country have crossed the 2.5 million-mark.

In Delhi, there are 93,080 active Covid-19 cases, taking the total Covid-19 tally of the city to 1,004,782. The death toll in the national capital mounted to 13,898. The positivity rate in Delhi stood at 32.27% and the case fatality rate was at 1.38%. As many as 74,702 tests, including 42,346 RT-PCR and 32,356 rapid antigen tests were done, according to the official health bulletin.

A total of 22,695 people also recovered from the disease, taking the total number of recoveries to 897,804.

On Saturday, 20 people died at Delhi’s Jaipur Golden Hospital as the facility waited for oxygen to be replenished.

With the worsening of conditions at the hospital, the Centre announced exemption of basic customs duty on import of Covid-19 vaccine, medical-grade oxygen and related equipment to boost domestic availability and directed the customs department to clear all import consignments, including life-saving drugs and equipment used in Covid-19 treatment on priority.

The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost oxygen availability in the country.

“The PM emphasised that there was an immediate need to augment the supply of medical grade oxygen as well as equipment required for patient care both at home and in hospitals. The PM stressed that all ministries and departments need to work in synergy to increase the availability of oxygen and medical supplies,” a statement said.

A day after 25 patients died at the Ganga Ram Hospital, one of the city’s biggest and most high-profile health facilities, the Delhi high court asked the Centre about the preparedness to deal with the expected Covid-19 second wave peak in mid-May, terming the mounting cases as a “tsunami”, and also warned it will “hang” any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals in the Capital.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said this during a special three-hour-long hearing on a holiday on the issue of the escalating oxygen crisis in various hospitals in Delhi. “We will not spare anyone,” the bench said.

Dr Jacob John, former head of the department of virology at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said: “The number of infections is likely to start coming down soon. The high mortality will continue for another week after that. However, the number of new infections coming down is still no good news because the absolute numbers would be high and the health care system is overwhelmed.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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