Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Thursday said the city government was preparing to set up 37,000 beds for Covid patients in anticipation of the third wave of the pandemic, even as he emphasised that if the positivity rate reaches five per cent again, then lockdown will be immediately imposed.
Addressing a virtual session hosted by Assocham India, the minister also said that the government was preparing to combat the pandemic's next wave, assuming a "worst-case scenario".
"Over 37,000 dedicated beds for COVID-19 patients are being set up presently and the Delhi government is preparing for the worst-case scenario so that it can save precious lives," he said.
The city government has learnt from the experiences of the second wave, and is taking all necessary measures to combat any potential wave and building all necessary health infrastructure from installing PSA oxygen plants to settings up more more oxygen, ventilator and ICU beds, Jain was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Health Department.
The minister emphasised upon being vigilant and following Covid-appropriate behaviour which is crucial in checking the spread of coronavirus.
"We have made public what our response would be. If the positivity rate now goes up to 5 per cent, then we will go for an immediate lockdown without delay," Jain said.
On Thursday, the national capital recorded 61 fresh COVID-19 cases and two deaths due to the disease, while the positivity rate slightly decreased to 0.08 per cent, according to data shared by the Health Department here.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) recently had passed a colour-coded response action plan under which curbs would be implemented in accordance with the severity of the Covid situation here to deal with a possible third wave of the pandemic.
While addressing questions on the second wave, Jain said, "We were caught off guard because of oxygen shortage and the logistical issues of procuring it, but now over 50 oxygen plants have already been built, and more are in the pipeline, so that such a problem doesn't arise again."
During the session, 'Delhi Healthcare System: Preparedness to combat the third wave of COVID-19' a few senior doctors and industrial leaders also shared their viewpoints on the chance of the next wave.
Jain also shared the experience of setting up field hospitals or makeshift facilities which were built during the second wave.
The health minister said, "Makeshift hospitals created at Chattarpur, Sant Nirankari Colony, Ramlila Maidan are now being ramped up with ICU beds and ventilators, which count to more than 1,200.
Further, the Delhi government is also training more medical staff and doctors belonging to different streams."
On a query on the vaccination drive, the minister said, "Delhi has the capacity of administering three to four lakh doses every day provided we get the supplies required and one crore doses have already been administered in the state."
"The cases are increasing again in the UK and the US, thus we must not drop our guard at this point.
All possible efforts are being made to ensure that a third wave doesn't come and if at all it comes, we are to be prepared for the worst," he said.
"Convened a virtual session with @ASSOCHAM4India & discussed Delhi Govt's preparedness to combat 3rd wave of #COVID19.
We'll be proactive in our response. We're preparing for the worst-case scenario & are preparing 37k beds dedicated to Covid," Jain earlier tweeted.
The Delhi government has also been augmenting facilities in pediatric departments and child hospitals in anticipation of the third wave, which experts have cautioned would prove more dangerous for children.
He said the Delhi government is not leaving any stone unturned in its effort towards saving precious lives and "75,000 tests are still being carried out every day, and aggressive contact tracing is still on to ensure that the situation remains under control".
He also said that various subsidy schemes have been launched by the Delhi government to facilitate building of PSA oxygen plants and LMO (liquid medical oxygen) facilities.
Despite a fall in daily cases in the last several days, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently cautioned that the chances of the third wave of the pandemic were quite real, and had asserted that his government was preparing on a "war-footing" to combat it.
Delhi had been reeling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping the country, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with the recent oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals, adding to the woes.
However, the number of cases have shown a downward trend and the positivity rate too has been shrinking in the last several days.
The number of deaths per day has also been showing a decline in the last couple of days.
On May 15, Kejriwal had said, "The virus is reducing in Delhi slowly and steadily, and I hope it diminishes completely and does not rise again.
However, we are not going to become negligent in any way", while sounding a tone of caution.
The coronavirus death toll in the city has risen to 25,060, according to the latest health bulletin. No death due to COVID-19 was recorded in Delhi on Wednesday, while 67 fresh cases were reported with a positivity rate of 0.
09 per cent.