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‘Premature to Say Capital Seeing Fresh Covid Wave, Prepared to Deal With Rising Cases’: Delhi Health Minister

As the cases continue to rise unabated in the national capital, on Sunday Delhi recorded 823 fresh coronavirus infections, pushing the overall tally to nearly 6.47 lakh.

With one fatality recorded in the past 24 hours, the death toll mounted to 10,956. After witnessing a constant dip in fresh cases of the corona throughout February, the numbers have been rapidly growing over the last fortnight. In total, 4,288 cases and 15 fatalities were seen between March 15 and 21 with an average positivity rate of 0.8 per cent. Meanwhile, the figure of Containment Zones, which was 556 on February 28, has reached 766 on Sunday.

Here’s what health minister Satyendar Jain has to say about the prevailing situation in the national capital:

Q. If you look at the trend in the past 10 days, Delhi has steadily breached the 600 & 700-mark and now for two days 800 cases per day mark? Are we witnessing another wave in the capital?

It is difficult to confirm whether this is yet another new wave. In Delhi, the positivity is hovering around 1% while in Maharashtra, the positivity rate is 15% … if you look at the states which have been hit by a new wave, the positivity rate is 5%. It will be premature to say that this is a new Covid wave, however, it is important to remain cautious and keep wearing masks. If people remain cautious, this can be controlled.

Q. As the chief minister had said that the focus of the government would be to improve vaccinations? Have you seen an improvement in the numbers of those getting vaccinated?

Last Saturday, Delhi saw the highest number of vaccinations at 46,000. From today, vaccination centres will be open for 12 hours from 9 am till 9 pm instead of 9 am to 5 pm as was being followed. Now, you can visit a vaccination centre without appointments anytime between 3 pm to 9 pm, earlier 3 pm to 5 pm as was being followed. This has been allowed after a lot of people were facing difficulty in getting registered. To facilitate people to get vaccinated without prior registrations, we are keeping our doors open between 3 pm till 9 pm. This will give a huge boost to the vaccination drive.

Q. Would you acknowledge that there was certain laxity in Delhi which is why the number of cases started rising again. After all, the daily caseload had reduced to a great extent?

See, it is difficult to say this as there is a trend across the country. There are approx 40,000 cases that have been reported across the country. When the country was reporting 10,000 odd cases, Delhi was reporting 200 to 300 cases. The average of number of tests that are being done in Delhi is five times the national average. Had the average number of tests in Delhi been the same as the national average, we would still have reported 200 to 300 cases.

Q. Would the DDMA consider making a COVID negative report mandatory for those entering Delhi from outside.

There’s a meeting scheduled, we will let you know once it is decided.

Q. What are the preparations in hospitals in case Delhi sees a surge again?

We are adequately prepared. If you look at the occupancy of beds, the occupancy is less than 10 percent. Ninety percent of the beds are still unoccupied and we are confident. There is no need to worry about the availability of beds. At one time, we had made arrangements for 18,500 beds. Now, we have about 6,000 beds. If there will be a need, the number of beds would be increased. However, there is no such need now.

Q. Are there reasons to worry that the situation in Delhi may become like that of Maharashtra?

At this point in time, there is no need for that worry. However, it is important to remain cautious and alert.

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