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New Delhi: With cases of covid-19 increasing in the national capital, the union home ministry on Sunday announced that the number of daily tests will be increased to 1 lakh per day and beds in hospitals will also be increased. This comes as Delhi is also battling a spike in air pollution levels which could make people more prone to catching the virus.

The meeting on Sunday was chaired by union home minister Amit Shah and saw union health minister Harsh Vardhan, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in attendance. On Sunday, the total number of cases in Delhi went up to 4.85 lakh with approximately 40,000 active cases. There have been 7614 deaths due to the disease and 4.38 lakh people have recovered from the virus.

Delhi is currently facing a third wave of covid-19 infections with approximately 45000 active cases. Over the last week, Delhi has seen over 7000 cases being reported each day. In the meeting on Sunday, Shah has given instructions for testing to be doubled, increase the number of labs and mobile vans for testing and also to increase the number of hospital beds available. The union government has also taken decisions to increase the availability of oxygen cylinders for the treatment of patients.

“Seeing the rising number of cases in Delhi, the home ministry chaired a meeting today to look into the covid-19 situation in Delhi. It is important for the people of Delhi for all the agencies to work together. The biggest problem right now is that of hospital beds. Since 30 October there has been a rise in the number of cases. Number of ICU beds are being exhausted. The centre has assured that 750 ICU beds will be made available over the next few days. Currently there are 60,000 tests being conducted which will be taken up to 1 lakh tests a day," Kejriwal said while speaking to reporters after the meeting.

According to SAFAR-India, the Air Quality Service of Ministry of Earth Sciences, the PM 2.5 level was 545. Levels above 60 are considered to be unhealthy. Union health ministry has already said that high pollution levels could make people more prone to catching the coronavirus infection which manifests itself in the respiratory tract.

“There is definitely an on-going wave of covid-19, especially in many parts of India, and air pollution is making it worse. So we need to act on multiple fronts to get hold as far as this pandemic is concerned," Dr Randeep Guleria, director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

He said that Delhi is facing a double whammy of air pollution and Covid-19 as the virus can survive for a long time in air pollution, which can cause more severe diseases.

Neetu Chandra Sharma contributed to this story.

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