NEW DELHI: As it augmented beds in dedicated hospitals and kept ready plush hotels and banquet halls to meet needs of serious patients, the Delhi government had introduced a model of home isolation during the COVID-19-induced lockdown which also proved an effective way to contain coronavirus cases.
The first COVID-19 case in Delhi was reported on March 1 and the first major surge of the pandemic had occurred in June 2020, when cases in excess of 3,000 were recorded for the first time in the national capital.
Today marks the completion of exactly one year of the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has till date infected over 6.49 lakh people and claimed lives of 10,967 in Delhi.
On Tuesday, the national capital recorded 1,101 cases, the highest daily count this year, and the first time it crossed the 1000-mark in 2021.
Daily incidences, active cases, containment zones and home isolation cases, all metrics have been showing an upward trend for the past several days.
The city government, soon after the lockdown was imposed late March last year, had chalked out several measures to check the spread of the coronavirus infection, and one of the innovative steps taken by it was quarantining asymptomatic and mild cases at theirs homes.
With movement of general citizens restricted and people afraid to step out of their houses during the lockdown, the decision to let infected people in certain category of cases to self-quarantine under the government supervision, also brought relief to many such patients.
The Delhi government had also significantly scaled up daily testing capacity after June, and went aggressive in tracing cases by conducting tests at markets, mohalla clinics and other crowded places.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, in an interview to PTI last September had asserted that the city government's home isolation policy had proved a "game changer" in taming the surge in June, a strategy it continued to pursue.
The city had witnessed a big wave in spread of infection over a long period of time in June, and on June 23, the daily cases count had mounted to 3,947, the highest single-day spike in Delhi till date then, with 68 fatalities in one day, which had taken the overall tally here to over 66,000.
Daily cases continued to be reported in excess of 3,000 till June 26 when the figure stood at 3,460.
The cases count had relatively been lower in July and August.
After showing a spike again since September 1, Delhi had recorded 3,256 fresh COVID-19 cases on September 6, the first time since June 26 when the daily cases count had breached the 3000-mark.
The Delhi health minister has often emphasised that "testing, tracing, isolation and treatment" strategy has been vigorously followed during the lockdown period and the unlock phase, and "aggressive contact tracing" also being done, to ensure infected persons are isolated as soon as possible, so they won't infect others.
Amid the worsening situation in June, the Delhi government had taken a multiple number of steps for COVID-19 management, including attaching big, plush hotels to dedicated coronavirus facilities, reserving beds for COVID-19 patients in private hospitals, keeping banquet halls and stadia prepared to meet any serious requirements.
Though the cases did not flare up then, as expected, the government tried to manage asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 by offering them home quarantine care, thus allowing beds to be available for symptomatic and serious patients.
As per its home isolation policy, the Delhi government has been monitoring condition of patients through tele-consultation facilities and also distributed oximeters to help them keep a tab on their oxygen level.
Asked what was the most effective strategy of the government that helped contain the surge, Jain in September had said that "Home isolation was our biggest strategy, and it proved a game changer".
"Today, also, we are on the right course, and we will continue to pursue that strategy for effective COVID-19 management," he had said.
According to official figures shared by the Delhi health department, there was a rise of 80 per cent in the number of home isolation cases of COVID-19 in the national capital between August 21 (5,818) and September 5 (10,514).
The home isolation figures on July 1 had stood at 16,703 with 437 containment zones marked in the city.
On July 31, while the home isolation cases count had come down to 5,763, the containment zones had risen to 692, according to official data.
Since, last week of August, the number of home isolation cases and containment zones count, both had steadily increased.
On, September 7, the number of home isolation cases and containment zones count, both rose to 11,613 and 1114 respectively.
After the third wave of the pandemic hit Delhi in November, number of home isolation cases and other metrics had also gone further up, which since December had started to show a downward trend.
However, in March this year, the home isolation cases have risen again, jumping to 2,316 on March 23 while the containment zones count mounted to 871.
With the surge being reported around the first anniversary of the lockdown, the city government has already issued orders for stricter implementation of testing, tracing and isolation of cases, and renewed focus on home isolation.