Stating that Delhi was likely to see Covid-19 infections rising to 5.5 lakh by the end of July – up from just under 30,000 right now – deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia sought to, for the second day running, justify the state government’s decision to reserve Delhi government hospital beds for local residents
Looking after this number of patients, he said, would require a nine-fold hike in hospital bed capacity in 7-8 weeks, from 8,892 right now to 80,000 by the end of July. Sisodia seemed to argue that, since achieving that will be very tough, the Lieutenant Governor’s decision to allow ‘outsiders’ to use these beds will mean ‘locals’ will almost certainly be left without beds. Sisodia said the LG had been asked to reconsider his decision but had refused.
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Though Sisodia did not say why the Delhi government had not stepped up the process of creating fresh hospital-bed capacity, a recent report by a panel set up by it had estimated a demand for 44,000 beds by mid-July; Sisodia’s end-July number is most likely an extrapolation of this report.
Since it is not going to be possible to create so much fresh capacity – 1,368 per day – in such little time, the Delhi government has been trying to reduce the load by changing guidelines to allow the mildly infected to be treated at home. It is also trying to convert hotels into hospitals; its last order to convert five hotels into hospitals has been challenged by two of them already. Regardless of whether the LG’s orders will leave that many less beds for ‘locals’, even if the state’s order had been upheld, it would be hard-pressed to provide anywhere near the number of beds required.
If Delhi has 5.5 lakh infected persons by July 31, Delhi will be seeing over 27,200 cases per million, against New York’s current level of 25,120 per million, London’s 3,047 and Milan’s 17,361— cities that are believed to have already passed their peak infection stage.