The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said it will augment Delhi’s ICU bed capacity from 3,500 to 6,000 over the next few days, bring in 325 doctors and paramedical staff to address manpower shortage, and double COVID-19 testing capacity in the city, which has seen a surge in infections and deaths over the past few weeks.

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Speaking at a press conference, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr. V.K. Paul said that several important decision were taken during the November 15 high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to review the situation in Delhi.

“We have arrived at a multipronged approach to tackle the situation in Delhi. Existing capacity of about 3,500 ICU beds will be increased to over 6,000 in the next three-four days in cooperation with the Delhi government as well as the private sector,” he said.

Dr. Paul said that 537 new ICU beds have been arranged at a DRDO facility, the Delhi government will procure additional beds and capacity will also be bolstered at Central government-run hospitals. “The Railways has provided a large number of beds by re-purposing coaches, about 800 beds have been arranged in Delhi,” he added.

Around 75 doctors and 250 paramedics from central forces are also being roped in. “Half of them have already joined and the rest will be in soon. This will ensure that there is no shortage in trained manpower to tackle the COVID situation in Delhi,” he said.

The Centre has also announced it will double COVID testing capacity to ensure that over one lakh tests are conducted in Delhi every day. “For this, we are roping in institutions that have research labs. Ten mobile test labs are also being arranged,” said Dr. Paul.

Strict implementation

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted that Delhi currently has over 4,000 containment zones where all safety guidelines and protocols will be strictly re-enforced.

“We have also stressed on aggressive contact tracing and isolating. Our strategy for Delhi includes doubling testing to 1-1.2 lakh per day with the right mix of RT-PCR and antigen tests, augmenting home care support, mobilising doctors and nurses, enforcing quarantine of contacts, and ensuring compliance of COVID-appropriate behaviour.”



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