The Delhi government has directed 33 large private hospitals in the national capital to reserve 80 per cent of their ICU beds for Covid-19 patients amid a shortage of such beds at some facilities. Delhi has been recording a surge in fresh coronavirus cases for the past few weeks. The city recorded its biggest single-day jump of 4,321 Covid cases yesterday. Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain today said that the Delhi government has directed all the private hospitals in the city having bed strength of 50 beds or more to reserve at least 80 per cent of their total ICU bed strength for Covid-19 patients.

Jain said that 4,321 people were found to be Covid positive out of 60,000 tests conducted yesterday, making the test positivity ratio about 7.19 per cent in Delhi when compared to the national test positivity rate which is about 8.8 per cent.

Considering an increase in cases for the last few days, the Delhi health department has ordered 33 hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of the total ICU beds available for Covid patients. In a video conference with 33 private hospitals, Jain had discussed reserving more beds in their ICUs. Briefing media persons, the health minister said, “If in some hospitals non-Covid patients are already admitted, once discharged, the vacant beds will be reserved for Covid patients only.”

He said that the hospitals in Delhi treating Covid patients were allowed to increase their bed capacity up to 30 per cent which would only be used for Covid patients.

Jain said that the order was relevant only for private hospitals and to ensure that more bed capacity in their ICUs are available so that the demand for ICU beds for Covid patients could be met. The minister added that out of the available 14372 beds, 7938 beds were still vacant and the current order involved ICU beds in private hospitals only and that there were ample beds available in government hospitals. Jain also said that the best way to protect oneself against Covid was the use of masks and the practice of social distancing norm, urging the citizens to be more careful in public and crowded areas.

The minister conceded that there was some scarcity of ICU beds in Delhi. Although there was a sufficient number of beds in hospitals, there was a shortage of ICU beds in easily approachable hospitals.

The hospitals, which are in high demand, have been ordered to increase ICU beds. The ICU beds were currently available in central government-run and Delhi government-run hospitals in the national capital.

Responding to a question, Jain said, “We want to make it clear that we are past the time of the lockdown. We have got a lot of experience after the lockdown. The most effective way to prevent corona infection is to wear masks. If you wear masks, you can avoid infection to a great extent. Also, it is necessary to adhere to social distancing. In the last days, some people had stopped putting masks, and again a campaign was being planned and carried out. The chief minister himself is making all citizens aware. Messages are also being given via FM and IVR etc. We are telling the Delhi residents through every means that if you are stepping out of house, you must wear masks.”

He said, “There is no separate data of people coming from outside, but those who are coming from outside are also being found infected. Now, in Delhi, all the transport is functioning, so there is no restriction for the people coming from outside now. Schools, colleges, cinema halls are now closed in Delhi. We hope that after 10 to 15 days, the cases will come down.”