What to expect and how to cope if you test COVID positive in Delhi


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A govt school in Gazipur, Delhi, being used as a containment centre. Pic Pramod Pushkarna

With the Delhi government ramping up testing, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the city is creating new records almost on a daily basis. There is also a group, including some medical professionals, who feel that the virus will eventually get to each of us, or at least most of us, and we should just stay prepared and reasonably cautious, without getting into panic mode.

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So how shall we manage and what can we expect, if we test positive for the virus?

According to the new rules announced by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on June 22nd, home quarantine is the way forward for most people even if they test positive. Only those with moderate to severe symptoms, and those with comorbidities, will be directed to Covid Care Centres and dedicated hospitals of their choice. Medical officers will take a call on what’s next for those who test positive.

While there are fewer complaints of beds not being available—possibly because of the emphasis on home quarantine—getting an ambulance still remains a challenge.

Rates for treatment in private facilities  have been notified by the Delhi government, and in all likelihood, the hospital you go to will have these displayed. A government official is also present in the private hospitals, to deal with any issues that may arise.

Be informed, be prepared

1. People in Delhi who test coronavirus positive through a lab-based swab test will be contacted by a health department official, who will guide the patient first to a government centre for a medical officer to assess whether they qualify for home isolation or need hospitalisation.

2. Anyone who tests positive through a rapid antigen test will be assessed by a doctor at the testing centre itself or at centres in their vicinity.

3. The medical officer will determine how severe the patient’s COVID-19 infection is and will also check for co-morbidities.

4. Asymptomatic or mild cases, or positive cases with no symptoms, will be considered for home isolation.

5. A separate team will determine if a person’s home is fit for quarantine. If their home does not qualify, then even mild or asymptomatic cases will be transferred to a care centre.

Is your home fit for home quarantine?

For home isolation, a person's apartment must have at least two rooms and separate toilets so that family members and neighbours are protected. They will be counselled by health department officials, and if a separate room with a toilet is not available at home for the exclusive use of the patient, he or she will be directed to a Covid Care Centre.

6. All home isolation cases will be contacted telephonically for nine days by a team, who can either be from health centres or are students from various medical colleges. This will be followed up through tele-consultations. While the health department will call up regularly, patients are provided a list of numbers that they can call for prescription of medicines, details of when to take the temperature, diet etc

Patients allowed home isolation would be provided  pulse oximeters by the medical officer at the testing centre which they need to return after they are discharged. Which normally is 10 days after they first test positive.

7. All moderate and severe cases will be transferred to Covid Care Centres or dedicated COVID Hospitals, depending on the medical officer’s assessment.

8. Patients and their attendants can choose the hospital convenient to them, from a list they will be shown. While some patients may want a private facility, the number of beds in government hospitals is more.

From June 4th, all COVID hospitals have been directed to shift patients from the ambulance or whichever vehicle the patient is arriving in, to the triage area, no questions asked, within 15 minutes. The order also provides for bed or sitting space depending on the patient’s condition. The doctor is expected to attend to the patient within 60 minutes, “depending on the urgency of requirement of treatment”.

If  a bed with the required level of facilities—eg oxygen, ventilator—is not available at the hospital where a patient arrives, it will be that hospital’s responsibility to transfer the patient to another hospital having the necessary facilities, and provide medical treatment till then.

From June 26th, government COVID hospitals like LNJP have been directed to allow one attendant per patient in an earmarked area, and CCTVs installed in wards, for monitoring purposes.

9. Patients who are asymptomatic but have other health conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, lung diseases etc, will also  be directed to stay at Covid Care Centres or hospitals of their choice.

10. Treatment will be according to the latest guidelines issued to the hospitals and Covid Care Centres. But they will undergo regular temperature and pulse oximetry monitoring, and discharged after 10 days of  onset of symptom or no fever for three days, without any testing prior to discharge. Patients will be advised to isolate themselves at home and self-monitor their health for the next seven days.

11. If  the oxygen saturation dips below 95% while at the Covid Care Centre, the patient will be moved to a dedicated COVID hospital.

12. If symptoms of fever, cough or breathing difficulty shows up after being discharged from the Covid Care Centre, the patient has to contact the Centre or the state helpline or 1075. In any case, the patient’s health  will be followed up through teleconference on the 14th day.

 13. Private hospitals like Max, Medanta and Fortis are offering “Home Care” packages for COVID patients

14. Of course, people testing positive should have already checked out their health insurance policies, packed their bags, and arranged all their IDs, credit or debit cards, cash, and devices (phone, laptops and chargers), books, biscuits, herbal infusions, steamers, electric kettles etc. handy.

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About Vijaya Pushkarna 17 Articles
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  1. An interesting article on an important topic. I read the article twice since I got confused after reading the article as you can see. I would appreciate if my doubts can be cleared. I am interested in the topic to understand how did AAP actually keep the promise of halving the power tariff while maintaining the fiscal balance. It almost sounds like we can have free lunch which cannot be true.

    “AAP had promised to halve the electricity bill. Mrs Bhalla’s bill was zero in Nov and Dec 2019. Malini who was paying Rs 6000 per month started to get a subsidy of Rs. 761 since August, 2019. Dinesh Kumar was getting zero bill for the last five to six months. Krtika Singh in Tilak Nagar has also been getting zero bills since August, 2019. AAP claims that it has reduced electricity bills by 50%.

    Article states at one place that subsidy announced was 20% up to 200 units, 35% from 201 to 400 units and zero after that.”

    I am giving the above quotes for my confusion.

    While the article giving the examples of Bhalla, Malini and Kumar creates an impression Delhi residents are getting “free electricity” since few months. Of course this is not true though the author ends up creating that impression at least in my case. Later the author after giving the new fixed charges shows how DERC reduced the fixed charges. There is no explanation as to how DERC reduced it. Since it is easy to reduce fixed charges by transferring to actual use through tariff increase, it would have been useful had the author explained why and how this happened. Did the government asked to reduce these fixed charges? After all some one has to pay it – either consumers through higher tariff or the government through higher subsidies or the generating/transmission companies by improving the efficiency or through reducing its rate of return.

    Having created the impression that AAP has met the promise of halving the electricity bill, it ends by showing how actual bill has reduced only by 18.56% for consumers with 2KW load, and by 28.43% for consumers with 5 KW. What happened to the implied claim of 50% savings?

    I agree that AAP has certainly reduced power bill by doling out subsidy. But as we all know there is no free lunch in this world. What impact this had on the budget? On the other hand if we find out that AAP managed to reduce power bill without having a “significant” impact on the budget (you told me that they even had a surplus) then one needs to appreciate it.

    Look forward to getting some explanation.


  2. The AAP manifesto indeed said they would halve the electricity bills. People did not believe they would be able to implement the subsidy. Today it is not half for all, it is free for some and a saving of about Rs800 for those who consume less than 400 units, and absolutely no subsidy for those who consume more than 400 units.

    When they assumed office in 2013, they spelt out the subsidies– 20% up to 200 units, 35% from 201 to 400 units and zero after that. It would have reduced the bills to half for some, not all power consumers, but the government was gone in 49 days. When Arvind Kejriwal returned to power in 2015, it continued that way, and so there was no buzz about the power subsidy.

    That is when, in Aug 2019—a few months before the assembly elections of Feb 2020 –, the Delhi government tweaked the scheme, announcing a 100 per cent subsidy for those who consume up to 200 units for power a month, and Rs 800 off their bills for those consuming between 201 to 400 units. It is since then that the bills came to zero for those who consumed less than 200 units, and others got a subsidy of 800 rupees. It helped that October, November weather in the capital is very pleasant: you don’t need ACs or heaters, so many people saved Rs800 a month. Those who ran up over 400 units got no subsidy.

    The DERC is mandated to fix the tariff –fixed load charges as well as power tariff for consumers, so it did, not from their pockets or reducing the price they pay. The gap on account of the subsidy was bridged by the Delhi government through budgetary allocations.

    The Delhi government has paid for the power subsidy without impacting their budget adversely, and they say, it is their prudence –no frivolous expenses on themselves, Now, the Congress has said they will give free electricity upto 300 units, and the BJP has said they will continue to the AAP subsidies on power if elected!

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