Deaths near 1,000 as Delhi logs spike in Covid-19 fatalities, cases

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Delhi recorded one of its deadliest days for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients with official figures released on Wednesday showing that 48 of them died on Tuesday, which was also a day when the number of new infections crept back up above the 1,500 mark.

According to latest government data, the national capital has now had 32,810 infections – of these 19,581 are active cases – and 984 of these have succumbed to the disease. In all, the government’s health bulletin added 79 to the Covid-19 death toll and 1,501 cases that tested positive on Tuesday.

In Delhi, the new infections came from 5,077 tests, which takes the disease confirmation rate to close to 30% -- the highest it has ever been.

The number has been increasing steadily this month, a trend that experts say indicates that the outbreak may be wider than known as more tests have the potential to uncover more cases.

The government released two sets of numbers on Wednesday, after having failed to release the daily health bulletin on Tuesday. The health bulletin includes infection, fatality and testing numbers recorded in the 24-hour period the previous day.

“There were a lot of meetings yesterday. It went on till late night. So, in between all that it (health bulletin) got missed. It was ready,” Delhi health minister Satyender Jain said while talking to reporters on Wednesday.

According to senior government officials who asked not to be named, the bulletin was ready but officials who were meant to give final approvals had been busy in meetings. “The bulletin has to go through multiple layers of approvals every day before it is actually released. It was ready yesterday, but some officials who had to sign it were in meetings. So going from one officer to other for signature took time,” said this person.

The document was eventually released around 5am on Wednesday. According to this bulletin, there were 1,366 cases on Monday and 34 fatalities were added to the Covid-19 death toll. Of these, 7 took place in the immediate 24-hour period.

Fatalities are routinely added to older dates since each Covid-19 death is vetted by a team of doctors and officials to confirm the cause of death. The test confirmation rate, also known as the positivity rate, was 25% for Monday.

The Delhi government is working on scaling-up its health infrastructure over the next month after its projections showed cases could reach as high as 550,000 by the end of July.

Experts, however, said the projected numbers should not be a cause for concern.

Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said, “The disease is such that a lot of people are likely to get infected. Even if we assume a low number of 10% of the population, it still means two million people will get infected in Delhi, which has a population of two crore.”

“However, most of the infections will be mild. Our focus now has to be on not creating panic about it and ensuring people who need treatment, get it. We have beds, we have everything, but there is no coordination and guidelines are changing every day. People are dying because of lacunae of the system. What we need is effective management of the health care system,” he said.

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