NEW DELHI: Is Delhi prepared to deal with one more wave of Covid-19? The jury is still out on this. City doctors and hospitals say, at least arrangements are being made to ensure no shortage of medical oxygen, the cause of a serious crisis in the currently receding wave.
The resurgence of infections caught everyone by surprise, conceded Dr Arun Gupta, member of the committee formed by Delhi government to prepare an action plan for the third wave. He added that this time around, the government was alert and prepared for all possible eventualities. “To meet the demand for medical oxygen, 27 pressure swing adsorption oxygen plants have been installed in state-run hospitals and at least a dozen more will be installed soon. The central government is also providing support to the state and to Centre-run hospitals to augment the oxygen storage and supply,” he said.
Dr Gupta added that the state government was also in the process of procuring cryogenic tankers to transport medical oxygen from the manufacturing plants.
“Delhi recorded 28,395 cases in a single day on April 20. While we are optimistic that a similar situation will not occur again, we are preparing to deal with an even worse scenario of more than 40,000 cases in a day,” the Delhi Medical Council president said.
Dr Rajesh Malhotra, chief of AIIMS Trauma Centre, said the hospital had commissioned two new ICU floors with an augmented capacity of 28 beds. “The ICUs will be operationalised by July 31, complete with state-of-the-art ventilators and monitors newly acquired for the possible third wave with special emphasis on paediatric care,” Malhotra claimed.
The AIIMS Trauma Centre has been designated as a special centre for Covid treatment. Malhotra said it had procured 40 ventilators with paediatric mode, paediatric fibre-optic bronchoscopy, paediatric laryngoscope and cardiac monitor with paediatric cuffs, among other equipment, to be fully prepared to manage infected children. There are apprehensions that a new wave will affect children more than adults, though there is no scientific evidence to support this belief.
In order to handle patients with advanced lung damage, AIIMS is acquiring ECMO, a machine that pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. Few public hospitals have this facility at present.
According to Dr S K Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Vasant Kunj, “One of the areas we are lacking in is vaccination. Only 22 lakh people have received both doses of the vaccine. This is very low. Besides, there are no trials planned as yet to assess the need and efficacy of a third/booster dose.”
Sarin also stressed on the need to make Covid tests readily available at lower costs. “Timely tests, tracking and isolation is key to control the disease’s spread. For this, the government must ensure easy availability of testing facilities. Also, we need to expand the infrastructure for genome sequencing to be able to identify newer variants of the coronavirus that causes Covid,” he said.