Surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi, AIIMS halts OPD Services for two Weeks

In a month the number of active COVID-19 cases in the National Capital has gone up by nearly 50 per cent in a month. There were 10,596 active COVID-19 cases on August 1 and the number has increased to 15,870, according to Delhi government's data. The number has started rising again and it has ringed alarm bells.  The city registered nearly 2500 new cases in the last 24 hours. 

It is widely admitted that the increase in new cases is due to increased public movement after easing of lockdown restrictions, non-residents coming to Delhi for treatment and return of migrants from other states. Delhi government data shows that of the 8,577 COVID-19 patients admitted to city hospitals in August, 2,536 belonged to other states (around 30 percent) - mostly from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The rise in the number of new cases has also led to a 35 percent increase in the demand for beds in hospitals in the city. The occupancy of beds reserved for COVID-19 patients was 18 percent on July 30, with only 2,958 out of 16,038 beds being occupied.

In view of upstick in COVID-19 cases in the city the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has put a halt to Out Patient Department (OPD) services in general and private wards for two weeks starting Wednesday to reserve beds for patients requiring hospitalisation. These beds will be reserved for seriously ill, emergency/semi-emergency COVID patients in light of the spike in infections over the last week.

“Once we again see the flattening of curve or decrease in the number of cases, we will start the routine surgeries. If you do routine work and have a lot of COVID cases, then the risk of routine patients getting COVID also goes up,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, AIIMS director.

Medical superintendent Dr D K Sharma said the decision was taken in view of the uptick in COVID cases and to accommodate trauma emergencies as the AIIMS Trauma Centre has been converted into a dedicated COVID facility. Of the 265 COVID beds earmarked at AIIMS, 84 are vacant at present.

The number of cases over the past few days has gone from an average of 1,200 to around 2,000 per day and the number of hospital beds occupied has gone up as well. The positivity rate, which in the beginning of August was around 6 per cent, is almost 9 per cent at present. 

Emergency and semi-emergency cases requiring hospitalisation or those advised hospitalisation will continue to be admitted along with Employees Health Scheme patients, AIIMS said in a statement. The decision to temporarily halt the OPD services will be reviewed after two weeks.