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#CaringForIndia Telethon: Coronavirus Situation In Delhi Improves, Experts Discuss Delhi's Model Of COVID-19

#CaringForIndia Telethon: Coronavirus Situation In Delhi Improves, Experts Discuss Delhi's Model Of COVID-19

Highlights

  1. Daily COVID-19 cases in Delhi has dropped from 3,000 to less than 1,500
  2. Delhi has the maximum number of COVID tests per million: Satyendar Jain
  3. People in home quarantine are being taken care of properly: Mr Jain
New Delhi: 

“The COVID-19 situation in the national capital is improving every single day and the Delhi model is now being discussed and lauded across India and abroad”, had said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on July 27. From reporting over 3,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 every day in late June to now reporting less than 1,500 cases of COVID-19, the Coronavirus situation in Delhi has improved tremendously. The curve has flattened and according to AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, the national capital Delhi seems to have hit the peak. At #CaringForIndia telethon, organised by NDTV and GiveIndia, a non-profit organisation to raise funds to support healthcare workers, experts discussed the Delhi model.

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Also Read: As Healthcare Workers Treat, Prevent And Protect, India Joins Hands To Assist Them In Fighting COVID-19

Satyendra Jain, Minister of Health, Delhi noted that the situation in Delhi is now under control, as it seems, the daily increase in COVID-19 cases has decreased and the number of tests has increased. He added,

We are conducting over 18,000 tests per day and the positivity rate is very low, about 6 per cent.

Indeed the testing in Delhi has increased, but the big worry is the decline of RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests considered as the gold standard for testing. From June 25 to July 26, the number of RT-PCR tests conducted in Delhi has dropped from over 8,000 tests per day to a little over 5,000 tests per day. However, the rapid antigen tests (RAT), that are cheap, quick and give a high number of false negatives have increased from 7,000 tests per day to around 13,000 tests per day.

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Talking about the Delhi government's inclination towards Rapid Antigen Test, Mr Jain said,

RT-PCR test also has a sensitivity rate (ability to identify those with the disease) of about 70 per cent. This means, there are 30 per cent chances that RT-PCR test will give false negatives. My RT-PCR test was negative but doctors were not ready to believe the report which is why another round of RT-PCR test was conducted and I tested COVID-19 positive. RT-PCR test can be conducted only when you have symptoms or have come in contact with a COVID positive patient. If someone comes to a hospital and complains of breathing problem, we will have to wait for a day or two to get RT-PCR results and initiate treatment. Whereas, RAT is quick and if someone tests negative and is showing symptoms of Coronavirus, we do RT-PCR test. In containment zones where you have to test 100 people, you can do RAT. Rapid antigen test is a good initiative. Delhi has the maximum number of tests per million.

According to the Delhi government, home quarantine or home based treatment of COVID patients has also helped in the fight against the pandemic. By treating asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients of COVID-19, the government was able to reserve beds for critically-ill patients and provide dedicated treatment to them. Talking about the same, Mr Jain said,

People in home quarantine are being taken care of properly. Our medical staff goes to their home, provide pulse oximeter and check on them frequently. People have gained the trust and there is no longer the fear of not getting a bed in a hospital.

Delhi was also the first to initiate plasma therapy, considered as a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients, on a large scale. In layman's language, plasma therapy involves transfusion of antibodies (proteins that develop in people who have recovered from coronavirus infection) from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 (convalescent coronavirus patient) into a critical patient.

On July 2, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurated country's first ‘Plasma Bank', which is set up at Delhi's ILBS (Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences) Hospital. Soon, the demand for plasma has outnumbered the donors following which on July 9, the Delhi government ordered that from now onwards any COVID-19 patient at any hospital requiring plasma from the plasma bank will have to first arrange for a replacement donor. Later, on July 14, the second plasma bank was inaugurated at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital.

Here, Project StepOne helped the Delhi government by mobilising donors for plasma and also helping donors to be matched with the right recipients. Talking about the initiative, Raghavendra Prasad, Founder, StepOne, said,

The intervention in Delhi was enabled by the government when it set up the plasma bank in ILBS which is a Delhi government owned hospital. And they were not able to get enough donors to come forward and donate in spite of a lot of campaigns and that is when they requested StepOne. And what we started doing was, we started having the volunteer doctors from StepOne talk to each of these donors personally and get them to come down and donate.

Further elaborating on how doctors built a bond with their patients and later persuaded COVID-19 recovered patients to donate plasma, Mr Prasad said,

When someone turns positive, there are two reactions - they continue their life as if nothing happened. And the other extreme is they utterly panic and do things they should not that is rushing to a hospital and demanding a bed. So, a call from a doctor will help subdue those reactions. Those who didn't care were being counselled by the doctors. And those who panicked, they would calm their nerves and help them to think more rationally. This relationship went on until the time the positive person recovered. So there were deep bonds between the volunteer doctors and the citizens and the impact of that was immeasurable.

Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder and Director of Ujala Cygnus Hospital that has been a part of Delhi's fight against COVID-19 talked about how other states can replicate the Delhi model and said,

I think the fact that replication of the Delhi model, the most important part is getting in more volunteers. I would urge all doctors and other volunteers, techies, whoever wants to play a small part in it, I would urge you to come and volunteer with us and try and help patients. In the short term, we can help COVID patients and in the long term, we can help thousands and millions of other patients also. The second important thing would be government support from the territories we work in. Delhi has been an amazing example; the government has really gone out of the way to help us in any way we wanted. There was so much help from the Delhi government, I can't even enumerate. But, that will be the second most important factor to replicate that model.

Also Read: In Mumbai's Govandi, Mobile Medical Units Screen People For COVID-19

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