Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reserve 1,000 ICU beds for the people of Delhi in the Centre-run hospitals like AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital amid the raging coronavirus outbreak in the national capital. Kejriwal highlighted the point that the high severity of the current third Covid-19 wave gripping the national capital is due to, among other factors, its severe air pollution caused by stubble burning in neighbouring states.

During the Covid review meeting of the CMs of eight worst Covid-hit states, held by PM Modi through video conference, the Delhi CM reportedly said that if the central government reserves these 1,000 ICU beds in its hospitals in the city for coronavirus patients amid a surge in Covid cases, “it will be a great support to us”.

Kejriwal said Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus infections on 10 November during the third wave and since then, the number of cases as well as the positivity rate were decreasing, hoping that this trend would continue in the city.

He, however, added that the rising mortality rate in Delhi was a matter of concern and that the government has to ensure a decrease in it. Kejriwal told Modi that of the total beds reserved for Covid patients in all the government and private hospitals across Delhi, 9,400 beds were occupied while 8,500 beds were vacant.

“We are not concerned about the non-ICU (common) coronavirus beds since we have an adequate number of non-ICU beds. Of the total ICU beds available in Delhi, around 3,500 such beds are occupied and 724 ICU beds are vacant. Home Minister Amit Shah is helping Delhi in increasing ICU beds, but if the Central government decides to reserve 1000 beds for the people of Delhi in Central government hospitals like Safdarjung and AIIMS, it will be a great support to us,” he said.

“We are thankful for all the help that we and the people of Delhi have received from the central government during the entire epidemic,” he told the meeting. Kejriwal also said that several factors were instrumental in making the third wave of coronavirus in Delhi “more dangerous”, adding that increased pollution levels in the city was a major factor among them.

“The pollution from stubble burning in the neighbouring states has been one of the major reasons. The Delhi government has recently induced a solution to the issue of stubble burning with the help of the Pusa Agricultural Institute. The government has used the bio-decomposer technology developed by Pusa Institute across the farmlands in Delhi, which has converted the straw on the fields into manure,” the CM said.

Kejriwal sought the intervention of PM Modi to resolve the vexed problem of stubble burning with the help of this bio-decomposer technology.

He said, “We want that under your leadership, the chief ministers of Delhi, Punjab, and Haryana should work together as a team to eliminate stubble burning.”

Delhi reportedly logged 4,454 fresh Covid cases yesterday with a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent. It then recorded 121 more Covid-linked fatalities that pushed its death toll due to this infectious, deadly disease to 8,512.

This was the sixth day in 12 days that the daily number of deaths crossed the 100-mark in Delhi. The national capital reported 121 Covid deaths on Sunday, 111 on Saturday, 118 on Friday, 131 on 18 November — the highest till date — and 104 on 12 November.