New Delhi, Apr 17 (PTI) Fresh daily coronavirus cases in Delhi neared a staggering 24,000 and positivity rate jumped to the highest-ever 24 per cent on Saturday, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling the situation 'very serious and worrisome' with a shortage of oxygen, remdesivir and tocilizumab drugs.
As the city has been witnessing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases for the past few days, Kejriwal sought the Centre's help to augment hospital beds and oxygen supply and address the shortage of life-saving drugs.
Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said hospital beds were filling up fast, but added that his government was trying to increase the number of beds in the coming days.
With the city reporting around 24,000 cases, this is the highest single-day surge till date. A day before, 19,486 COVID-19 cases and 141 deaths were reported in the national capital.
The daily cases in the country were less than 10,000 in the first week of February, while Delhi alone was reporting only 100-150 cases during the same period.
Kerjiwal said that the cases of COVID-19 are rising fast in the national capital, adding that nobody knows when the peak of the current wave will come and therefore, it was needed to be fully prepared to deal with the emerging situation.
If the COVID-19 situation becomes more serious, the Delhi government will take all the steps needed to prevent loss of lives, the chief minister said, indicating more restrictions in the coming days.
'In the last 24 hours, around 24,000 fresh cases have been reported. Within a day, the number has gone up from around 19,500 to around 24,000. So, the situation is very serious and worrisome,' he said.
On Thursday and Friday, the city had recorded 16,699 and 17,282 cases, respectively.
In order to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, the Delhi government has imposed a curfew this weekend and announced closure of gyms, spas, malls, auditoriums and assembly halls till April 30.
During the press conference on Saturday, Kerjiwal said he has requested Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to augment supplies of oxygen stock, and remdesivir and tocilizumab drugs for COVID-19 patients in Delhi.
Officials have also been directed to take stern action to check black-marketing of remdesivir and conduct raids, the chief minister said.
'Our biggest target is to augment beds with oxygen supply attached,' he said.
In the next 3-4 days, the government will add 6,000 more beds, including 1,300 at Yamuna Sports Complex and 2,500 at Radhaswami Satsang premises, he said.
In just a matter of weeks, Delhi has become the worst-hit city in the country in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a situation that some doctors are describing as an 'absolute rampage”.
The previous highest positivity rate till the third wave was on November 14 last year at 15.33 per cent.
On Saturday, Kejriwal warned strict action against hospitals that are denying patients beds despite showing availability on the Delhi government's COVID app.
He also demanded that the Centre reserve 50 per cent of the total pool of beds in hospitals run by it in Delhi for COVID-19 patients.
The district magistrates have been directed to keep a tab on the labs and ensure that no new samples are collected by them if they already have pending samples of COVID-19, the chief minister said.
Some labs have lifted more samples of COVID-19 suspects than their capacity leading to a delay of 3-4 days in getting test reports, Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal said he raised the issue of shortage of oxygen beds with the Union health minister, adding that in November last year, the central government allotted 4,100 beds at a peak of 8,500 cases in Delhi.
'This time, they have only provided 1,800 beds, even though this wave is three times more fatal than the previous ones,' he said.
Kejriwal said in AIIMS, there are 1,162 beds in total. Out of these, only 23 beds have been reserved for coronavirus patients. In Safdarjung hospital, there are 2,900 beds, out of which only 204 have been reserved for COVID-19 patients.
'I requested him saying that if at least 50% of beds are reserved for Corona, an additional 3000-4000 beds could be made available for the patients. The ICU beds should also be provided.' 'We have always been helped by the central government in the fight against Corona and I hope that this time too, the central government will support Delhi.' PTI KND/VIT BUN BUN SMN SMN SMN