Rajat Sharma

Will Delhi face COVID community spread? Will the number of cases in Delhi rise to 5.5 lakhs?

akb (1)On Tuesday, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told the state disaster management authority that if the present trend continues, Delhi could reach 5.5 lakh COVID-19 cases by July-end and there would be need for 80,000 hospital beds. Delhi Heath Minister said, the capital has entered the community transmission stage, but it was for the Centre to declare if it is so.

The question is: why is Delhi government saying that community spread has begun, though the Centre and WHO are unwilling to accept this? I smell some amount of politics behind this.

Since the COVID situation is deteriorating in Delhi, nobody wants to own responsibility, and that is why statements are being made at random, in advance, to save one’s skin. Throughout the COVID crisis, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal did not utter a single word against the Centre, accepted whatever the Centre directed, and did not raise his voice when the Centre gave a lesser package to Delhi.

Kejriwal himself said, he had told his party leaders to ignore criticisms by local BJP leaders, but when the Lt. Governor on Monday turned down the state government’s proposal not to allow outside patients for treatment in Delhi hospitals, Kejriwal looked worried. He could not gauge why this happened. Kejriwal and his team suspect that the Lt. Gov. took this decision at the instance of BJP. Some of the AAP leaders are on record having said that state BJP leaders want to gain political advantage by projecting that the Delhi government has failed to tackle COVID crisis.

The question is: will COVID spread faster in Delhi as Sisodia has projected? If it is so, can outsiders be allowed to be treated in Delhi hospitals? The Lt. Governor has to answer this question. And, if COVID situation is under control in Delhi, will influx of patients from outside make any difference here? Kejriwal has to answer this question.

I spoke to several doctors and experts. None was able to clearly predict the rate at which COVID cases will grow in Delhi in the next two months. None of the experts were willing to say that the number of cases would go up to 5.5 lakh in Delhi by July-end. None could predict the exact peak time, nor could anybody say clearly whether Delhi has entered community transmission stage.

The reason: COVID-19 is a new type of virus, has no past history, has behaved differently in different countries and different cities. Hence, nobody can predict anything with confidence. However, preparations have to be made: stadiums will have to be converted into hospitals to boost capacity, but if community spread has begun right now, there must be urgency in preparedness. Nobody knows when there will be a big spurt in the number of cases. Let all the parties leave politicking behind till this crisis is over.

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