Delhi faces shortage of hospital beds as COVID-19 cases surge

Delhi faces hospital beds shortage as coronavirus cases surge
Patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) get treatment at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital, amidst the spread of the disease in New Delhi, India April 15, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

New Delhi: Capital city New Delhi recorded 24,000 coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period and is facing an acute shortage of hospital beds, its chief minister said on Saturday, as more than 200,000 cases were recorded across India for a third day.

"The situation is very critical, worrying. Oxygen is in short supply," said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, adding that almost one in four tests for the virus were giving a positive result.

"Beds equipped with oxygen supplies, and for critical care, are filling fast," he added.

New Delhi, which has imposed a weekend curfew, is among the worst hit cities in India, where a second major wave of coronavirus infections is straining health infrastructure.

India reported 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States. Deaths from the disease rose by 1,341 to 175,649.

Hours after the warning of shortage of beds and oxygen amidst exponential surge in COVID-19 patients in the national capital came, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he has apprised the Union Health Minister about the situation.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Kejriwal said that coronavirus is spreading exponentially and nobody knows when it would reach its peak. "I spoke to Union Health Minister and told him that there is now a huge shortage of beds, oxygen, Remdesivir, and Tocilizumab, which must be made available by the Central government for adequate treatment of COVID-19 patients," Kejriwal said.

Meanwhile, the chief minister also pointed about shortage of beds for COVID-19 patients in two main Central government-run hospitals - AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals. "In AIIMS, there are a total 11,62 beds of which only 23 have been reserved for the Covid patients while Safdarjung hospital has around 2,900 beds out of which only 204 have been reserved for Covid patients," Kejriwal claimed.

He said, "I requested the Union Health Minister to reserve at least 50 per cent beds for Covid patients. Similarly, ICU beds should also be provided."

Kejriwal stated that, in November, the Central Government had allotted around 4,100 beds in its hospitals when Delhi was facing the third wave of coronavirus and the highest daily tally was 8,500. As of today, the Centre has provided only 1,800 beds in its hospitals while the daily Covid cases have crossed 24,000 on Saturday.

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