Millions more could die in a possible 2nd coronavirus wave, WHO official warns

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, center, gestures as he speaks to medical professionals at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, June 25.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, center, gestures as he speaks to medical professionals at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, June 25. Biplov Bhuyan/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Plasma therapy has reduced the number of deaths in one Delhi hospital by half since medical trials began, Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal said in a press briefing on Friday.

The experimental treatment uses antibodies from the blood plasma of patients recovered from coronavirus to help strengthen the immune response of others still battling Covid-19.

“We hope that through plasma therapy we can reduce deaths due to the virus,” Kejriwal said, adding that while the treatment was not very useful for seriously ill patients, it prevented people with milder cases from deteriorating further.

Kejriwal also said that Delhi had provided oximeters for people being treated at home. Oximeters are devices that measure the saturation of oxygen carried in your red blood cells.

“Many times in mild or asymptomatic cases there are no symptoms but oxygen levels drop drastically and that leads to death, [so] we hope that people can be saved if they are consistently monitoring their oxygen level,” Kejriwal said.

Nearly all patients being treated at home have been provided an oximeter by the Delhi state government, he added.

Delhi became India’s worst hit city on Wednesday, as cases surged in the capital territory. Hospitals in the city are scrambling for beds and suffering from a shortage of health care workers.

India’s Supreme Court has criticized Delhi over its handling of Covid-19 patients and the treatment of the dead. The court issued a notice earlier in June to a hospital in the city, the Delhi government, and four other states on the proper treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Following the Supreme Court notice, Home Minister Amit Shah met with Delhi state authorities at a meeting where officials decided to increase testing in the area to 18,000 tests a day.

Kejriwal admitted Friday that there was a shortage of hospital beds at the beginning of June but said the situation was now under control.

“We have 13,500 beds available of which only 6,000 are occupied, even though we are adding about 3,000 cases daily, people are recovering quickly so the number of beds occupied has remained roughly the same over the last week,” he said.

Delhi officials have increased the number of ICU beds available for patients and are also using banquet halls and hotels to supplement hospital beds, the chief minister added.

As of Friday, Delhi has 73,780 confirmed cases of coronavirus including 2,429 deaths and 44,765 recoveries according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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