India conducts mass door-to-door coronavirus survey as cases spike to half a million

With a fresh spike in cases, India neared half a million coronavirus cases on Friday.

New Delhi, the capital, has become the worst-hit city in India, surpassing Mumbai. Delhi has crossed the 70,000 mark for coronavirus cases - a cause for major concern.

The new cases took India's total to 490,401. Also, the Indian health ministry reported another 407 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 15,301.

India is one of the worst-hit countries in the world - cases there have quadrupled in just over a month.

Indian authorities have now decided to carry out a mammoth survey to map the spread of coronavirus across the country. Their starting point? All 20 million residents of New Delhi.

New Delhi is the Indian city with most coronavirus cases. Credit: Associated Press

The survey will involve trained medical teams going door-to-door with infra-red thermometers and pulse oximeters to detect any symptoms linked to coronavirus. They will also help suspected patients undergo testing for Covid-19.

Health officials will record every resident’s health details and test those who show or report symptoms.

Similar exercises will then be undertaken by different states. Under the universal screening move, more than 400 million people could be screened in these states by July.

However, coronavirus has had a head start.The surge in cases is accompanied by dire predictions from epidemiologists that the worst is yet to come.

Ramanan Laxminarayan, Director of the Washington-based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, said in a recent report that India could see a possible peak of 200 million cases by September.

Relatives bury a person who died of Covid-19 at a cemetery in New Delhi. Credit: Associated Press

As Delhi's Covid-19 cases rise, more beds, ventilators and intensive care units are being arranged. New Delhi’s local government has projected that cases in the area alone could expand to more than half a million by late July.

Authorities have even started converting luxury hotels and stadiums into field hospitals.

After getting flak for not providing enough hospital beds, the city's government has transformed 40 luxury hotels and 77 banquet halls into Covid-19 care centres. This would add 15,800 beds for sick patients.

Alongside luxury properties, Delhi's local government has also taken over a huge religious campus (roughly the size of 22 football fields) in its effort to ramp both bed numbers and medical infrastructure.

The sprawling campus of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, a religious sect in south Delhi’s Chhatarpur, is set to be the biggest Covid-19 temporary hospital in India with over 10,000 beds.

Armed Forces personnel have been detailed to provide medical care and attention to Covid-19 patients on campus.

City authorities have also converted 500 railway coaches in an effort to increase Delhi’s capacity for patients by 8,000 beds.

All desperate measures to cool India's densely populated coronavirus hotspot.

Coronavirus: All you need to know