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More beds free up in Delhi, fewest admitted with Covid-19 since Jan 10

Covid-19 hospitalisations in the national capital are at a two-week low, amid an overall downturn in the city’s infection tally and active case count, shows data from the Delhi government, which doctors across the city’s health care facilities said is an indication that the fifth wave of the pandemic is well under control.

Delhi government data shows that while Covid-19 hospitalisations in the city started plateauing around 10 days ago, a visible fall in admissions started from January 19, when 2,734 dedicated beds in the city’s hospitals were occupied. This number dipped to 2,698 beds on January 20, then 2,656 on January 21, then 2,504 on January 22, and 2424 on January 23.

The trend continued on January 24, when 2,394 hospital beds were occupied and on January 25, when 2,304 beds in the city were taken up. As on Wednesday, of the 15,420 Covid-19 beds in Delhi, just 2,137 (13.86%) were occupied, showed state data, the fewest since 1,999 on January 10.

The drop in the number of occupied hospital beds between Tuesday and Wednesday, was the largest so far during the fifth wave, with 167 beds being freed up in 24 hours.

The seven-day average of infections in Delhi fell to just over 9,000 on Wednesday, the lowest since 8,370 on January 7 this year.

Data shows that in Delhi, the highest proportion of beds occupied was on January 17 when 18% of the city’s 15,505 available beds were in use.

Doctors at the city’s major Covid-19 hospitals confirmed that these numbers mirrored the downward trend of infections in the Capital.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak Hospital, the largest Covid hospital in the city run by the state government, said the facility has 98 positive patients admitted, as against 140-150 patients around a fortnight back.

“Admissions are declining at a faster rate over the last three or four days. Usually, when we see a fall in infections, the consequent dip in hospitalisations lags a few days. This seems like a positive sign that we have passed the worst of this wave,” Dr Kumar said.

He added, “Currently, those admitted with Covid-19 are either senior citizens or those with severe co-morbidities.”

This is in line what has been observed globally in Covid-19 surges caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that is fuelling India’s third – and Delhi’s fifth – wave of infections. Most patients who are infected by the variant of concern are able to recover at home without needing medical care in an institution.

Further, deaths during the current surge have been a fraction of those seen during previous surges. For instance, on April 20 last year, as the fourth wave hit its crescendo, the infection claimed 277 lives. In fact, the daily death toll, even at its highest during the fifth wave so far (45 on January 22), has been lower than that during the peak of infections during the third wave of infections in November 2020. On November 11 that year, Delhi added 8,593 Covid-19 cases, which was the highest daily count at that point, but logged 85 deaths.

Two sets of analyses by the Delhi government earlier this month showed that those most at risk of mortality during the Omicron surge remain the unvaccinated and those with pre-existing comorbid conditions.

A senior official of Delhi government’s health department concurred and said hospitalisations were much lower compared to the previous waves.

“We were prepared to deal with the worst situation, and that was initially projected to be around 70,000 to 100,000 cases per day. We have managed to avert the worst… In this wave most people have recovered at home and have not required hospitalisation. The people who needed hospital care were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, senior citizens and people with severe illnesses,” the health official said.

At no point since cases of Covid-19 began surging in the Capital this year has the hospital bed occupancy rate been beyond 20% of capacity, data released by the Delhi government every day shows.

Doctors at private hospitals also confirmed similar trends.

Dr DS Rana, chairperson of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “There are definitely more discharges now than admissions, and this can also be attributed to greater awareness among people. In the earlier waves, people panicked more and rushed to hospitals but now they can see that they are getting better at home. We are seeing people in ICUs (intensive care units) but these are mostly people who had severe diseases like cancer, kidney problems etc. They were already in ICUs and were shifted to Covid ICUs when they tested positive.” Hindustan Times

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