As Delhi becomes the coronavirus capital of India, its hospitals are struggling to cope

A day later, an online report confirmed that it was positive.

“We weren’t panicking,” says Mandeep, Singh’s son-in-law. “Because we knew the reason for her fever, we thought we could probably deal with it.”

But as Singh’s condition worsened, his family found it impossible to find a hospital to treat him, as the city’s health system gave way under pressure from the growing epidemic.

Mandeep Singh said three private hospitals told the family they had no beds, despite an application established by the Delhi government showing that they had availability. Others didn’t even take calls from the 68-year-old man, including the one who tested him.

Lakhjeet Singh, 68, tested positive for Covid-19 but was unable to find a hospital to admit him.  He is represented with his daughter and granddaughter.

Finally, Lakhjeet Singh went to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP), the largest government hospital in Delhi. Before embarking on the 30-minute trip to the hospital, Mandeep Singh says the government application showed that the hospital had 1,100 beds available.

But when they arrived, Mandeep Singh claims that his father-in-law was rejected by medical personnel, despite the fact that government hospitals in Delhi are legally obliged not to reject emergency patients. Doctors said there were no free beds.

“It was highly unlikely that 1,100 beds were occupied when we got to the LNJP hospital,” says Mandeep Singh.

Outside the hospital, Elder Singh passed out. His family took him inside, where 10 minutes later a doctor examined him and pronounced him dead on arrival.

In a statement, LNJP expressed its condolences to the Singh family and denied that they were denied admission. The hospital says he was examined by a doctor and was dead on arrival.

On June 4, Lakhjeet Singh’s daughter wrote a short message on Twitter: “It no longer exists. The government failed us.”

The highest Covid-19 count in India

When India went into closure on March 25, Delhi had recorded only 606 Covid-19 cases and 10 deaths. When the city began easing blockade restrictions in the third week of May in a bid to resuscitate its economy, the numbers began to rise, and by June 8 it had more than 40,000 cases.

A day later, the city’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, announced that the capital was expected to witness more than half a million Covid-19 cases by the end of July.
A doctor collects a swab from a woman to test Covid-19 on June 18 in New Delhi, India.

Sisodia warned Delhi would need an additional 80,000 hospital beds in such a scenario.

Dr. Arvind Kumar, President of the Chest and Lung Transplantation Center at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi and founder of the LungCare Foundation, says the situation in Delhi is “terrifying”.

“Currently, the numbers are increasing very rapidly and the problem with these infectious diseases is that as the infected group increases in society, the number of cross infections that occur from that infected group also increases and multiplies.” , He says.

At a press conference on Monday, Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal said around 23,000 new cases of Covid-19 had been reported in the city in the past 10 days. Last week, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain tested positive.

According to officials, about 55% of Covid-19’s active cases are in home isolation, but the rest need medical attention.

As cases increased and people rushed to find hospital beds, in early June the city government launched the Delhi Corona app, which shows real-time information on bed availability in public and private hospitals. Hospitals enter the information on the platform and government officials verify the figures.

A person who died of Covid-19 is buried in the Jadid Qabristan Ahle Islam Cemetery on June 19 in New Delhi, India.

Kejriwal said the app, which is updated twice a day, would help close the information gap on the condition of the beds and could be used to file complaints against hospitals that refuse to admit infected patients.

But with the app showing free hospital beds across many facilities, it seems like the problem isn’t just about providing more beds – hospitals need staff to care for them, too.

Lack of doctors

Shahana Chanda, 34, was taken to at least five hospitals in early June, according to her uncle, Shahid Siddiqui, a local politician.

Despite the hospital application saying beds were available, her family said she was repeatedly rejected from the facility, until she was eventually admitted to a reputed central government hospital at Delhi-Safdarjung Hospital.

Chanda was screened for Covid-19 upon entry and given a bed, but after that, her family says she was neglected.

“There was no one to take care of her,” says Siddiqui. “No medications were provided. They left her alone, only oxygen was provided.”

Shahana ChandA, 34, was taken to at least five hospitals in early June, according to her uncle, Shahid Siddiqui, a local politician.

Chanda died on June 7. Siddiqui says the oxygen supply was removed to walk to the bathroom in the room, where he collapsed. “When she fell, no one came to help her. Her brother had to take her back to bed. When the doctors examined her, they said she was gone,” says Siddiqui.

Safdarjung Hospital said in a statement that Chanda was in a critical condition when she entered and that her family had lost vital time by taking her to different hospitals. The hospital said Chanda initially tested negative for coronavirus.

The abuse did not end there, Siddiqui said.

“When she died, the brother was asked to put it in a bag, sew it up and take it to the morgue, and put it there. No one was there to help them,” he says.

Safdarjung Hospital told CNN it would not address the allegation.

Such abuse claims are not isolated. On June 12, the Supreme Court of India criticized the Delhi government for its handling of Covid-19 patients and the treatment of the dead, describing Indian media reports of “horrible” scenes at LNJP, where Lakhjeet died. Singh.
Lakhjeet Singh, 68, tested positive for Covid-19 but was unable to find a hospital to admit him.

A television report showed a man lying on the floor without clothes in a room, with an elderly person unconscious in a nearby bed. There were no medical personnel available to help.

The Supreme Court ruling said: “The patients are in the wards and the bodies are also in the same wards. The bodies are also seen in the lobby and in the waiting room. The patients were not provided with any oxygen or any other type of support, no saline drops were shown with the beds and there was no one to take care of the patients. The patients cry and there is no one to take care of them. “

Dr. Parv Mittal, president of the LNJP Hospital Resident Physicians Association, said the facilities were overwhelmed the day the images were taken.

“There was a shortage of medical and cleaning staff. The doctors and nurses were running around but were overloaded. Many had contracted the infection due to extended hours. The situation is now much better,” he said. “More cleaning staff have been employed and CCTV cameras have been installed to monitor sick patients.”

The Supreme Court implored Delhi officials to increase the number of beds across the state and to “provide appropriate infrastructure and personnel” for Covid-19 patients, calling the conditions “pathetic” and “inadequate”.

Measures are being taken

India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation in Delhi after the scathing report from the Supreme Court, and subsequently established a series of standard operating procedures after talks with the Delhi government.

Among other measures, rates for isolation beds in private hospitals have been significantly reduced, while Delhi’s testing rate, which the Supreme Court noted as low, has increased from an average of 5,000 tests daily to 18,000, according to the Prime Minister Kejriwal.

A banquet hall that is normally used for weddings has been turned into a makeshift coronavirus hospital as the Indian capital struggles to contain a spike in cases.

Authorities say another 20,000 Covid-19 beds will be added there next week. This includes a large spiritual center that will be transformed into a 10,000-bed specialty hospital, expected to be the world’s largest Covid-19 center, by Friday.

In addition, 500 vintage train cars, with 8,000 beds in total, have been assigned as isolation centers for minor cases.

A Delhi government spokesperson said: “The government is creating multiple facilities, such as hotels, banquet halls, etc. to treat crown patients. These facilities are being created only after organizing the adequate manpower needed to manage patients. For example, around 3,000 hotel rooms are being prepared in the capital. “

But experts still doubt that Delhi has enough manpower to operate the additional facilities.

Kumar of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital says front-line workers are exhausted and fear of contracting the virus.

“We don’t have enough manpower to run even our own hospital today,” he says. “We are having fights with the nurses every day. They want to quit, they want to go. The resident doctors are disappearing overnight … People are not willing to do chores here … There is a labor problem. in every hospital. “