The national capital on Wednesday recorded 792 fresh coronavirus cases, the steepest rise in a day so far, taking the overall COVID-19 infections to 15,257, while the death toll climbed to 303, authorities said. The previous highest spike in fresh cases — 660 — was recorded on May 22.
In a bulletin, the Delhi health department said the death toll from coronavirus infection has risen to 303, and the total number of cases mounted to 15,257.
It, however, added that the cumulative death figures refer to fatalities where the primary cause of death was found to be COVID-19, as per the report of the Death Audit Committee on the basis of case sheets received from various hospitals.
The committee was formed earlier this month to examine the cause of deaths as the city government came under intense criticism over the mismatch between its figures and those shared by the hospitals.
In another development, the Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday submitted reports to the Delhi government’s death audit committee on 52 fatalities that took place at the facility in the last two months, official sources said.
The sources said the death audit committee will go through the reports received from the hospital which contain the summaries of the deceased, to ascertain if these fatalities were due to COVID-19 or not.
“Until now, the hospital had sent reports on four deaths caused by COVID-19,” an official source told PTI.
This may significantly change the death toll in the city, the sources said.
Dr Balvinder Singh, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, told PTI that officials of the Delhi government are constantly changing their COVID-19 death data collection teams because of which there has been a “miscommunication” among its own staffers.
He said the hospital has been reporting deaths on a daily basis and the accumulative data of COVID-19 deaths from February 1 to May 16 was misconstrued as a single day death which is very erroneous.
From February 1 to May 16, 53 COVID 19-related deaths were reported to the Delhi government, he said, adding that 16 fatalities were recorded between May 16 and 26, taking the coronavirus death toll in the hospital to 69 so far.
“We have constituted a mortality review committee that meticulously compiles the data related to COVID-19 deaths and transmits it to the Union health ministry and also to the Delhi government as and when desired by them,” Singh added.
According to sources, the Union Health Ministry had also sought a clarification from the hospital administration over the sudden spike in numbers of COVID-19 deaths being reported and it was informed about the same accordingly.
Earlier this month, Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev had issued an order, along with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), under which all COVID-19 hospitals and other facilities would email a “death report” to the district and state surveillance units everyday by 5 pm.
According to the health bulletin, out of the total 15,257 cases recorded so far, at least 2,118 are admitted at various hospitals like LNJP Hospital, RML Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH) and AIIMS Jhajjhar, adding 191 of them are in ICU and 32 on ventilators.
There are 7,690 active cases in Delhi.
Among the fresh cases includes a DCP of Delhi Police. Earlier, another IPS officer with Delhi Police had tested positive. A junior assistant at the office of the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has also tested positive for coronavirus.
Three employees of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). The development promoted the civic body to seal a floor in the headquarters building in Lutyen’s Delhi and a section of another building housing its office in the Gole Market, an official said.
The number of containment zones in Delhi has been increased to 96 from 91 till Tuesday.
The national capital has been under the lockdown since May 23. However, curbs were announced much before. Schools were first ones to be closed.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia interacted with principals of over 1,000 government schools to chalk out a plan for reopening of schools which have been closed for over two months due to COVID-19 lockdown.
“The reason we are following an elaborate planning process is because we need to keep many factors in mind before taking a decision. It is not just about maintaining social distancing or sanitization alone or calling one set of classes to school and not the others.
“Any decision will have far-reaching implications on children and their families because school is an integral part of our social life,” Sisodia told principals in the online interaction.
Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister, said, there cannot be a common plan for reopening all schools as the context of every school is different.
In another order, Chief Secretary Dev directed authorities to ensure that Indian nationals, who recently returned from abroad and are currently at paid quarantine facility, get a refund of seven days as they are not required to stay in hotels for 14 days.
The move comes in the wake of some hotels refusing to refund an amount of seven days to those people who booked a quarantine facility for 14 days by making advance payments.