Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced delinking of hotels from hospitals in view of the improving COVID-19 situation in the national capital, but directed officers to ensure strict compliance to existing testing guidelines. Meanwhile, the city reported 1,035 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the total count to 1,33,310, while the death toll rose by 26 to reach 3,907, a government health bulletin said.
A total of 17,392 coronavirus tests (5,074 RT-PCR and 12,318 Rapid Antigen Tests) were conducted, it said. On Monday, the daily cases count had dipped to 613, the lowest in two months. It was 1,056 on Tuesday.
Since July 11, the daily fresh cases have remained under 2,000. On July 20 and 27, they were below 1,000. The number of active cases have remained in the range of 10,000-11,000 for the past three days. According to the Delhi Corona app, of the 16,038 dedicated coronavirus beds, 13,039 were vacant as on Wednesday.
Kejriwal said all beds in hotels which were attached to hospitals to act as extended COVID care centres were lying vacant for the past many days. "Some hotels were attached to hospitals to increase the number of COVID beds. In view of the improving situation and all hotel beds lying vacant for the last many days, these hotels are now being released," he tweeted.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had last month attached around 40 hotels to hospitals to increase the bed capacity after there was a spike in coronavirus cases. Patients with moderate symptoms staying at such hotels were to be given basic healthcare and were to be shifted to the attached hospitals in case their condition worsened.
Three hotels in south west Delhi were earlier this month delinked from their respective hospitals due to low occupancy, but the decision was reversed by the district authorities within a day. On the diagnosis front, Kejriwal directed officers to ensure strict compliance to existing guidelines on COVID-19 testing in the national capital.
The guidelines state that if any patient's antigen test is negative but has symptoms, he must undergo the more credible RT-PCR test. The direction comes two days after the Delhi High Court asked the Aam Aadmi Party government why it was going with Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT), which has a high rate of false negative results, as the primary test for COVID-19 infection.
"Existing guidelines say that if any patient's antigen test is negative but has symptoms, RT-PCR test must be done on him. I directed the officers today to ensure strict compliance of these guidelines," Kejriwal tweeted. The Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) is a laboratory technique widely used in the diagnosis of genetic diseases and to measure gene expression in research.
During a hearing on July 27, the court had made it clear to the Delhi government to "strictly" follow the guidelines on COVID-19 testing as issued by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and not according to its own interpretation. The court had also noted that the result of the recent sero-survey in the city indicated that more than 22.86 per cent of the population have had COVID-19 without even realising they were infected as they probably were asymptomatic.
The court had also said in such a scenario how can the Delhi government go with RAT as its front line test, when its rate of false negatives was very high, with RT/PCR being recommended for only those who were symptomatic. It had said that the ICMR has not said that testing has to be done in this manner.