Coronavirus: Delhi struggles to cope with rising Covid-19

A health worker with personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a girl at a health center for testing in Delhi on June 27.Image copyright


Authorities hope an increase in tests in recent weeks will help tackle the Delhi outbreak

Prime Minister of India’s capital Delhi said the rate at which the coronavirus has spread has severely challenged his health system.

Arvind Kejriwal said an increase in cases in early June led to a shortage of hospital beds and an increase in deaths.

Delhi is now the most affected area in the country, with around 73,000 registered cases of Covid-19 and at least 2,500 deaths.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was “much better placed than many other nations” to fight the virus.

In a virtual address, he said this was due to a strict national blockade ordered in March and various measures taken by the people.

“India’s recovery rate is increasing,” he added.

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Media captionInside an ICU in Mumbai during the coronavirus pandemic

More than 500,000 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded across the country. About 15,000 people have died after testing positive for the virus.

But infections in Delhi, a city of about 20 million people, have increased much faster than in the rest of the country. About a third of the total number of infections there have been reported in the past week alone.

Prime Minister Kejriwal said: “The cases increased more than we expected and in the first week of June we witnessed a shortage of [hospital] Beds

“We were behind in testing in Delhi. And because of the shortage of beds, when some people did not have beds, the death rate also increased.”

Delhi authorities have begun massive tests to determine the extent of the spread in the capital.

“The only way to control infections is early diagnosis and quarantine,” Dr. Sundeep Salvi, a leading respiratory care researcher, told CBS News.

In early June, four months after its first recorded Covid-19 infection, India emerged from one of the world’s toughest blockages. Most companies were allowed to reopen.

Schools also reopened in many states, although they remain closed in Delhi.

But the relaxation of the confinement caused an increase in new infections. India now has the fourth highest number of confirmed cases in the world, behind Russia, Brazil and the United States.

However, with a population of over 1.3 billion, it still has a low infection rate per capita, less than 400 per million people.