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Friday, April 16, 2021

Delhi beat Covid-19: 7 things other states can learn from the Capital

Let’s start with some good news. You must have read about Delhi’s decreasing coronavirus cases. Indeed, a sigh of relief for all of us after the national Capital was reeling under 3,000 to 4,000 new cases per day last month. Since then, Delhi has witnessed a remarkable turnaround. It ensured a sharp drop of new cases and an increased recovery rate. According to a report by The Indian Express, Delhi recorded less than 1,250 new cases on July 13, a first such huge drop in daily infections since June 1. The growth rate of daily new cases has come down to 1.7% now from 6%.

So how did Delhi do it? How did it manage to flatten the rising infection curve? In this article, we will discuss how Delhi can be an important lesson to other states, especially for Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, that are struggling to bring the situation under control even after months of attempts.

Here are 7 major lessons that Delhi taught us in flattening the Covid-19 curve

These are the 7 pillars on which Delhi’s Covid-19 success is based upon. States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat that have been seeing a surge in their daily case counts must follow the national Capital’s footsteps.

1. Increasing daily testing and contact tracing measures

As rightly pointed out by the World Health Organization, increased testing and contact tracing is the key to combat the virus. This is how New Zealand, Finland, Germany, Norway and so many other countries have achieved success. The more you test, the more it is easier to trace, isolate and treat those infected by the virus. Delhi followed the same suit.

According to a report, Delhi was ahead of any other Indian states from the very beginning when it comes to daily testing. Though many believed that Delhi should have tested more but till the first week of June, the states conducted 5,500 tests every day, a number higher than any other state. But as cases started to rise quite fast from mid-June, the number of testing got even higher, to almost 11,000. Following the rapid tests, Delhi could isolate a huge number of people. Thanks to the Centre’s support for giving nod for rapid antigen tests that give quick results. At present Delhi conducts over 950 tests per million people, where it is only 197 for Maharashtra and 563 for Tamil Nadu. Gujarat and Bengal lag even behind. Our question is why can’t these states follow Delhi’s policy?

2. Upgrading hospital infrastructure and increasing beds

Researchers have been warning from the very beginning that Covid-19 cases rise exponentially i.e. in multiplication. Maharashtra is the best example here. Cases rose in this state in almost leaps and bounces and therefore it is mandatory to upgrade the existing health infrastructure. Delhi’s plan in increasing its existing healthcare facilities brought great results. In June, the Arvind Kejriwal government asked all private hospitals to reserve 40% beds for Covid-19 cases. Besides over 40 hotels and 80 banquet halls were turned into makeshift hospitals to reduce the load from government hospitals. The right increase of facilities proved to be a major success factor for Delhi which rose from 3,200 beds to 15,000 beds within a month. Compared to Delhi, the Maharashtra government wasn’t that prompt in increasing its healthcare capacity. Though certain measures have been taken lately, Maharashtra still gives a grim picture with daily 6,000 to 7,000 cases and bed shortage. And it also lack sufficient healthcare workers.

3. Encouraging home isolation for mild/asymptomatic cases

This was a great plan to reduce burden from hospitals. The promotion of home isolation home care for patients with no or mild symptoms brought huge success for Delhi. The Capital’s 80% of patients were asymptomatic and the best way to treat them was through home isolation. Required medical support and facilities were extended to those patients who recovered in their home comfort and in the proximity of their family members. This also played a big role in keeping the mental strength of those patients strong, a vital factor pointed out by psychologists. States like Karnataka, Telangana and Bengal that are still struggling to accommodate all Covid-19 patients to hospitals must promote this plan systematically.

4. Offering oxygen facilities to all who require

Once the majority of Covid-19 patients started recuperating at their homes, it was necessary for the government to provide healthcare facilities to them as well along with those hospitalised. And that’s what the Delhi government did. It provided pulse oximeters to all home isolated patients to check their oxygen level. Sudden drop of oxygen in blood, a major cause of Covid-related death, was monitored and controlled by these oximeters that the government bought and offered to all patients under home care. States that are struggling to provide hospital care to all patients must follow this lesson to improve their situation.

5. Bringing all units to work together

The Covid-19 crisis can only be solved if we all work together. Only healthcare professionals or doctors cannot single-handedly bring any success. Direct engagement of authorities to provide authentic information to people about Covid-1 care was a big help for Delhi. The Kejriwal government ensured that all stakeholders work collectively and offer trusted information to people about where the state stands in terms of handling the situation. This proves yet again that close coordination between states and the Centre can bring positive change. Keeping this mind, even the non-BJP states should follow Delhi’s path.

6. Launching plasma therapy and promoting it

If we talk about new treatment to combat Covid-19, plasma therapy was first practised by the Delhi health professionals. It brought great results, so much as that Delhi showed the nation in launching plasma bank to spread the service. The Delhi CM himself led from the front in promoting plasma donation and inaugurating the country’s first plasma bank. Following Delhi’s strategy, Assam started its plasma bank too. But many states are yet to work on this sector. Plasma therapy works effectively in treating critical care patients and bringing the mortality rate down.

7. Promoting technology support for easy functioning

Delhi took the help of the latest technology in its fight against Covid-19. While IIT Delhi launched low-cost testing kit “corosure” which is available for just Rs 500, the Delhi government launched an app called “Delhi Corona App” that gave real-time information on the availability of beds and other such required facilities. The government also collaborated with app cab providers in order to increase the number of ambulances.

These measures are easy to follow and can be emulated by the other states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka and Gujarat that contribute to over 80% of the total daily cases in India.


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