Delhi will have over one lakh cases of the coronavirus by the end of June, a five-member panel constituted by the Arvind Kejriwal-led government said on Saturday, the Hindustan Times reported. At this rate, the Capital will need 15,000 additional hospital beds by the end of the month and around 42,000 by July, it added.

Delhi, with over 27,000 cases and more than 700 deaths, is the third worst-hit state in the country after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It has been reporting over a thousand cases daily for the past few days.

The panel, headed by Indraprastha University Vice Chancellor Dr Mahesh Verma, submitted its findings to the Delhi government on Saturday. Verma told the newspaper that cases in the Capital are surging at an alarming rate.

“There are about 25,000 Covid-19 cases in Delhi currently and the doubling time is 14 to 15 days,” he said. “This means, by mid-June there will be about 50,000 cases and by month end [there will be] one lakh cases. Now, assuming that 20% to 25% of these patients need hospitalisation, Delhi would need 15,000 beds by the end of the month and 42,000 by mid-July.”

Moreover, most of these beds have to be of level three or level four, which means that they have to be equipped with high-flow oxygen or ventilators, Verma added. The committee has estimated that around 20% of the Covid-19 patients in hospitals may require ventilator support. “The government might have to start looking at makeshift beds in banquet halls, open grounds or stadiums.”

The Delhi government has asked the panel to guide its overwhelmed infrastructure and monitor its overall preparedness of hospitals to battle the pandemic in the Capital, according to PTI. The panel was also asked to guide the government on any other area where strengthening of infrastructure is required to better manage the pandemic in Delhi.

The panel also recommended that the health infrastructure in the city should be reserved for treating residents of the Capital, adding that if the government opens up hospitals for non-residents, all beds will be occupied within three days, PTI reported.

All the projections are based on the number of cases that are being reported from Delhi each day, Dr Arun Gupta, another member of the committee, told Hindustan Times. “This means that the infrastructure suggested by the committee is what is needed just for those living in Delhi.”

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had sought public opinion on whether Delhi hospitals should bar non-residents from seeking treatment, according to NDTV. But Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday vehemently opposed the suggestion.

“How can Delhi’s beds be reserved for people of Delhi?” he asked. “How can Mumbai’s beds be only for Mumbaikars? How can Kolkata’s beds be only for people of Kolkata? There isn’t a requirement of passport and visa to come to Delhi. People from all across the country come to the national Capital for treatment.”

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