Delhi will have nearly 1K testing centres soon: Jain
Health Minister Satyendar Jain discusses the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Capital's journey to one of the highest testing cities and how the "Delhi model" change now that the city has opened up in an exclusive interview with Nikita Jain and Aaisha Sabir of Millennium Post. Jain spoke of increased testing being the key, how opening up more modes of public transport will help spread the crowd and what the Delhi government is doing about declining antibodies in recovered patients.
The 'Delhi's model' worked when the city was under lockdown. How will this model change now that everything has opened up again?
Delhi is almost open, but what major changes have come? How many people are traveling in the metro? Today buses have opened, where the occupancy is low. Delhi is open for many days and many places have opened together, but what we are trying to do is increase the number of testing. What we have done is not even one patient should be left out. Even if the patient is asymptomatic and we find him, we will isolate him and that person will not infect ten people. Today our numbers might be 3000 or so, but after ten days this will drastically change. We are working towards that and we have kept everything open and never hide anything from the people. We have listened to all criticism and worked on it. When everyone is saying the number of cases has
increased, I would just say that when the number of cases was 4,000 then the tests were 10,000 to 12,000. Now when the number of tests is 46,000 and with 3,000 to 4,000 coming in as positive, it shows that we have changed something, which is that not even one patient should be left, when it comes to testing.
Do you think Delhi is experiencing a second wave or community transmission?
The Centre is not accepting community transmission. I have been saying that for a very long time that it is community transmission. They will accept community transmission when 80 to 90 percent of the population will get an infection, but the serosurvey is saying it is just about 30 percent. It would have been viable to call it a second wave when there would have been no cases. Since March the cases have increased in India and till then it hasn't stopped so we cannot call it the second wave. Surge can be more or less within a city or a state in a different area or time. If we talk about Delhi, the number of cases initially was seen in congested areas or slum areas. But the number of cases has decreased drastically. Now, the untouched areas where prevalence was less, there the cases are increasing.
Was this the right time to reopen the metro?
To open the metro was a good option. The more options one has of transportation, there will be less crowd. I have also been told that very few people have been traveling in the metro.
What is the strategy ahead in terms of rising cases?
We are finding each and every Covid positive case and isolating them. Increasing Covid testing centres which are 400 plus as of now. After roping in mohalla clinic centres in two days it will be 800 testing centres and we are adding more. It will be close to 1,000 centres just for testing none of the other states have that.
Mohalla clinics have been turned into testing centres. How will the government provide primary health care services to non-covid patients?
Mohalla clinics will work as it used to till 2 p.m. after which the testing will be done from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The third serosurvey has been completed. What next?
The reports will be in within a week. Antibodies are decreasing in people there might be cases where no antibody is found even though they might have been infected and recovered long ago and so antibodies were not in sufficient quantity to be detected. There is a decline but how is it happening that is not sure.
Is the Delhi government studying re-infection cases in Delhi as few cases have come up?
There has been no confirmed case as of now. Delhi has seen 1, 80, 000 positive cases, but there has not been any confirmed re-infection case.
Even I could test positive again. The dead virus can stay in your body for two-three months and when you test such people their results can show positive again. Just because you were positive some months back and are testing positive again does not mean that you will infect other people. The virus is in the body but it is ineffective. You cannot call it re-infection you can call it re-direction.
Studies have shown that antibodies start declining after three months of recovery. What data has the Delhi government compiled on this and how long do the antibodies last?
Yes antibodies start declining but nobody knows for how long the antibodies will last. After three months they start reducing now whether it gets over in six months or a year or two years no one can say. After three-four months pass by we will be able to get more clarity on it by studying the data of old plasma donors.
Having beaten the disease, do you think people are still scared of the virus?
I think people should be scared of it. There needs to be an alertness. If you become careless then things might not be good. A balance needs to be
created between fear and complete callous behaviour... One should not be casual. One has to take care of society, and everyone needs to be cautious, wear a mask and maintain social distance.
When can we expect the schools to re-open?
They are not opening in September.