The Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum on Tuesday alleged that the results of the serological survey conducted in Delhi, to measure the incidence of the coronavirus, showed the “utter failure” of the central and state governments to control the pandemic. The survey revealed that 23.48% of Delhi residents had antibodies – that is, they may have at some point been exposed to the coronavirus.
The forum said that the governments had failed to control the virus despite having imposed a “brutally harsh lockdown that imperilled the lives and the livelihoods” of the people of Delhi. “The failure of government’s measures need not be a matter of perception but is borne out by facts which can be deduced from these results,” the forum said.
“Given the estimated population of Delhi of 3,02,91,000 in 2020, and a prevalence of 23.48%, the total number of Covid cases in Delhi would amount to 71,12,327,” the forum said. “The number of severe and critical infections would amount to 10,66,849 and 3,55,616 respectively.”
The forum said that according to the World Health Organization, around 80% of cases are either mild or asymptomatic. However, in the case of Delhi, the percentage of asymptomatic cases may have been very less, it claimed. But the serological survey found that the number of such cases may have been very high.
The survey was conducted between June 27 and July 10, and a total of 21,387 samples were collected from 11 districts to test for antibodies.
The forum alleged that many beds in government-designated Covid-19 hospitals are lying vacant, and people cannot afford the treatment in private hospitals, even at the reduced cost the government has set. “While talking of the common people, it need be remembered that more than 50% of Delhi’s population lives in slums and resettlement colonies,” it said. “Including people living in unauthorized colonies this proportion goes as high as 75% to 80%.” The organisation said that since these individuals live in dense and unhygienic conditions, “physical distancing is merely a catchphrase” for them.
The Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum alleged that health services in Delhi and the country were “inefficient and indifferent”. “Given the stratified nature of the society and the inter-laden power equations, the credibility of our health services hardly inspires the confidence that they would have made every effort to reach out to these marginalized sections,” it added.
The forum alleged that the governments at the state and central levels had been “foolhardy” to follow only a containment strategy. “PMSF would like to emphasize that along with containment measures, the need is to improve the efficiency and the reach of the publicly funded health services to provide effective treatment to the people,” it said. The forum also demanded that the private sector be fully nationalised until the pandemic is over, so that it serves the needs of the people, “rather than the needs of the market”.
The forum said that propaganda and media management may help modulate public perception for a while, but there is a pressing need for the governments to wake up to reality.
The Union health ministry’s Tuesday morning update puts Delhi’s coronavirus tally at 1,23,747, including 15,166 active cases, 1,04,918 recoveries and 3,663 deaths. According to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government, the city-state added 1,349 cases by Tuesday evening, and 27 deaths. As many as 1,200 people recovered on Tuesday.