Omicron scare: Medical oxygen infrastructure augmented in Delhi as national capital sees highest COVID deaths in December

The government has also procured 6,000 D-type cylinders. One D-type cylinder can hold 46 litres of oxygen. Such cylinders were not available in the city till May 31.

Published: 31st December 2021 03:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st December 2021 03:56 PM   |  A+A-

A health worker collects a swab sample of a passenger to test for COVID-19 at a train station in New Delhi. (Photo | AP)


NEW DELHI: Amid a spike in Omicron cases, the Delhi government has ramped up medical oxygen infrastructure to ensure availability of the life saving gas, according to official data.

The government has also procured 6,000 D-type cylinders.

One D-type cylinder can hold 46 litres of oxygen.

Such cylinders were not available in the city till May 31.

The data showed that the Delhi Transport Corporation has over 9,115 cylinders in its possession.

The city also has Pressure Adsorption plants that have a capacity of producing 99.66 metric tonnes of oxygen.

There were no such facilities in Delhi till May 31.

The government will also be installing four more plants by January 5, 2022.

Two cryogenic bottling plants with capacity of 12.5 metric tonne will be commissioned this week, and these will have the capacity to refill 1,400 jumbo cylinders in a day.

Till May 31, the government had three refillers that could fill about 1,500 cylinders per day.

The national capital has been seeing a surge in coronavirus cases in the last few days with 1,313 cases being recorded on Thursday and the positivity rate crossing the one per cent mark.

Delhi has recorded 320 Omicron cases so far.

Delhi was hit by a brutal second wave of the pandemic in April-May, which claimed a massive number of lives daily, and the oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals had added to the woes.

Nine COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Delhi in December so far this year, the highest count of fatalities due to coronavirus infection in the last four months in the national capital, according to official data.

Delhi had recorded seven deaths due to Covid in November, four in October and five in September.

The city on December 30 recorded 1,313 fresh Covid cases, the highest single-day rise since May 26, while the positivity rate mounted to 1.73 per cent, according to the data shared by the health department.

No fresh fatality was reported in the city on Thursday.

On December 27 and December 28, one death each due to the infection was registered, according to official figures.

The number of cumulative cases on Monday stood at 14,46,415.

Over 14.18 lakh patients have recovered from the infection, as per the latest bulletin.

The death toll due to the coronavirus infection in Delhi stood at 25,098 by the end of November, which has risen to 25,107 till December 30, as per official data.

The solitary death recorded on December 28 was the ninth fatality due to coronavirus infection, reported in December.

Eight other deaths were reported prior to it in the last month of 2021, amid a scare of Omicron variant of Covid.

India logged 309 fresh Omicron infections, taking the total tally of such cases in the country to 1,270, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Friday.

The 1,270 cases have been detected across 23 states and UTs so far, and 374 people have recovered or migrated.

Maharashtra recording the maximum number of 450 cases followed by Delhi at 320, Kerala 109 and Gujarat 97.

In July, the last time zero death was recorded was on July 29 when 51 cases were reported with a positivity rate of 0.08 per cent, according to official figures.

In August too, the last time nil fatality was recorded was on August 29 when 31 cases were logged.

Daily case count had dropped to 17 on September 13, with no death being recorded that day, while the positivity rate stood at 0.04 per cent, according to official data.

Delhi had reeled under a brutal second wave of the pandemic that swept the country early 2021, claiming a massive number of lives daily, and the oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals had added to the woes.

Since April 19, both daily cases and single-day deaths count had spiralled up in Delhi, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22.

On May 3, the city registered a record 448 deaths, as per the official data.

However, the number of cases had shown a downward trend and the positivity rate too had been shrinking from June, though death cases continued to be reported in subsequent months.

However, in the last one week, the coronavirus cases have surged in a big way.

On December 18, the city had recorded 86 cases with a positivity rate of 0.13 per cent.

The daily cases count breached the 1,000-mark after a gap of seven months.

On May 28, the city had logged 1,141 cases A total of 75,953 tests -- 68,590 RT-PCR tests and 7,363 rapid antigen tests -- were conducted a day ago, the bulletin said.

The number of people under home isolation stood at 1,560 on Thursday while it was 1,068 a day before, and the number of containment zones in the city stood at 645 a significant jump from 502 on Wednesday, the bulletin said.

Senior doctors in Delhi on Thursday warned that though the data collected so far suggests that the Omicron variant of coronavirus causes mild infection, there is a need to remain watchful as a community spread can still strain hospitals.

The elderly and those having comorbidities are at serious risk, they said.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said Omicron is gradually spreading in the community and the new, fast-spreading variant of concern has been found in 54 per cent of the latest samples analysed in the national capital.

He also said that the variant will only spread further in the coming days.

Dr Piyush Jain, Medicine Department, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, said, "Data from some foreign countries shows that the Omicron variant causes mild infection in most of the cases. But we do not have the data from India yet."

However, it can still put the elderly and those having comorbidities at serious risk.

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine at Safdarjung Hospital said people who are "immunocompromised, or have HIV or secondary infections need to take care of themselves and not step out. Take regular medications and monitor their sleep cycle."

Sumit Ray, head of department of Critical Care Medicine at Holy Family Hospital said the sheer number of Omicron cases can overwhelm hospitals.

"We have to be watchful. In South Africa, there have been fewer hospitalisations (due to Omicron). Most of the hospitalisations in other foreign countries are because of Delta. But if the number of infections is 2 lakh per day, like in France, and the hospitalisations due to Omicron are one-seventh or one-eighth of that number, it's a fairly high number," he said.

Delhi on Thursday recorded 1,313 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day rise since May 26, while the positivity rate mounted to 1.73 per cent, according to health department data.

According to Union health ministry data updated on Thursday, India recorded the highest daily rise of 180 Omicron cases, taking the total tally of such infections in the country to 961.

The Delhi government on Thursday ordered closure of three markets in Seelampur in north east Delhi till 10 pm on December 31 for overcrowding and not following Covid guidelines, an official order said.

According to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order issued on Thursday, Seelampur fruit market to police station road market; C, D & F Block markets and Nehru Market in Seelampur will remain closed till 10 pm on December 31 (Friday) or further orders.

Sub Divisional Magistrate of Seelampur, Sharat Kumar said an information was received that shopkeepers, vendors and general public in the above mentioned areas were not following the Covid appropriate behaviour which might cause super spreading of coronavirus.

"Therefore, Seelampur fruit market to police station road market; C, D & F Block markets and Nehru Market in Seelampur are hereby closed with effect from 4 pm on December 30 (Thursday) till 10 pm on December 31 or till further order," the order stated.

The order further said a meeting was also convened with the market association to apprise them about the rapid spread of Covid and its new Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, District Magistrate (Southeast) Vishwendra said strict vigilance will be conducted in four to five of the region's markets which have been attracting huge crowd.

He said special enforcement teams will be deployed in the markets of Greater Kailash-1, South Extension-1, Lajpat Nagar, INA and Nehru Place to ensure strict compliance of yellow alert restrictions and COVID appropriate behaviour.

With the spike in cases of COVID-19 and its Omicron variant, the district administrations and Delhi Police have intensified their enforcement drives for strict adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour.

According to government data, authorities have fined 17,528 people in four days between December 26 and 29 for violating COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, among others.

They also realised a revenue of Rs 3.46 crore from the fine.

On December 26, enforcement teams had issued 4,425 challans across 11 districts and collected a revenue of Rs 88.72 lakh, while a day after 4,123 people were fined and Rs 81.51 lakh was collected as fine.

Similarly, on December 28, as many as 4,392 people were fined for violating Covid guidelines and Rs 86.33 lakh was collected.

On December 29, the authorities issued 4,589 challans, the highest in these four days, and realised a revenue of Rs 89.67 lakh from it.

The data also showed that the maximum number of 2,873 challans were issued in the north district between December 26 and 29 followed by east district at 2,504 fines in the same period.

A senior official of the Narela sub-division of north district said the enforcement in the district has been enhanced as challan teams are inspecting the area to ensure the compliance of the DDMA order regarding the yellow alert.

"Challans are being issued as and when required. The highest number of challans in the district shows our strictness towards implementing the Covid guidelines."

"Three shops have been sealed for violation of Covid norms and the odd even policy under the yellow alert within the Narela sub-division," he said.

He added that new testing and vaccination centres have been made operational.

In other districts as well, the number of enforcement squads and other machinery engaged in the compliance mechanism have been increased.

District Magistrate (Southeast) Vishwendra said the number of enforcement teams have been increased to keep a constant vigil on adherence of Covid appropriate behaviour to arrest the spread of the virus.

"Earlier before the yellow alert, there were 14 enforcement teams consisting government officers, but now that number has been increased to 25. These teams constantly visit markets such as Greater Kailash, Lajpat Nagar, South Extension for strict compliance of restrictions and crowd control measures," he said.

He said apart from issuing challans, these teams are also responsible for enforcement of restrictions imposed under yellow alert like odd-even functioning of shops selling non-essential items in markets.

Besides, the administration has also stepped up efforts to engage with public stakeholders and brief them about the disease and seek their support.

A senior official at the office of New Delhi district magistrate said the machinery engaged in vigilance has been beefed up.

"We have almost doubled the number of civil defence volunteers at markets and other crowd prone areas. For instance, at India Gate, there now over 30 civil defence volunteers deployed and in Sarojini Nagar market, the number is about 50. Earlier, it was half of these numbers," the official said requesting anonymity.

He added that enforcement teams have also been "reinvigorated" and their numbers increased for strict compliance of norms.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) sounded the "yellow" alert under its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Tuesday, after the Covid positivity rate was recorded above 0.5 per cent in the national capital for two consecutive days.

Senior administrative officials of east and central districts said they are conducting meetings with representatives of different Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) and market associations to tell them about the restrictions.

Another official at south district echoed similar views and said other than forming special flying squads, more civil defence volunteers are being deployed in markets for crowd management.

According to police, from making public announcements and creating awareness to taking strict action against Covid-19 violators, the Delhi Police has taken a slew of measures for implementation of DDMA guidelines.

Harsha Vardhan, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) said in last three days alone, more than 150 FIRs have been registered for violating the norms.

He said police have also approached those interested in volunteer services to reach out to residents and markets in their nearby areas to ensure both DDMA as well as COVID-19 appropriate behaviour are followed.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said they are creating awareness about the latest DDMA guidelines in groups of RWAs and market associations.

Public announcements in market, high footfall areas and residential places about the infectious disease are being made.

"At pickets, our men are also distributing masks to the needy and also issuing challans for violation of Covid appropriate behaviour and DDMA guidelines," Kalsi said.

The officer said they have also approached school teachers, who through their online classes, help us create awareness among students about the implementation of DDMA guidelines, Omicron and Coronavirus.

Another police official of central district said with increase in awareness about the surge in Covid cases and prosecution, gatherings have reduced in the district.


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