Delhi: A plasma bank for treating COVID-19 was made operational on Thursday in Delhi which saw the total number of cases crossing 92,000 even as Union home minister Amit Shah suggested extensive use of Aarogya Setu and Itihaas apps to help mapping of coronavirus cases in the NCR region.

The plasma bank came up at the Delhi government's Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).

The capital recorded 2,373 fresh coronavirus cases taking the tally to 92,175. With 61 deaths, the fatalities now stand at 2,864, a bulletin issued by the health department said.

However, the silver lining is that 3,015 patients recovered on Thursday, taking the number of those recovered to 63,007. There are 26,304 active cases in the national capital.

Addressing an online media briefing, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the eligibility for being a plasma donor is "very strict", and hoped that with this bank the number of COVID-19 deaths will decrease in the national capital.

Patients can donate their plasma 14 days after recovery, he said.

After inaugurating the plasma bank, he urged those who have recovered from the disease to donate plasma to other patients.

Home minister Shah also chaired a high-level meeting which was attended by the chief ministers of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Shah has been steering the COVID-19 response strategy in Delhi-NCR.

"HM Shri @AmitShah emphasised on, 1. Adoption of more testing using Rapid Antigen Test Kits to help reduce infection transmission rate. These kits can be provided by GoI to UP and Haryana. 2. Focus on early hospitalization to reduce mortality rates. 3. Extensive use of Aarogya Setu & Itihaas App to help mapping of Covid in NCR," a home ministry spokesperson tweeted.

The National Capital Region is a densely populated urban belt comprising cities like Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad. It spreads across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Among the cities, Delhi has the highest number of cases in the country.

"Today, we have started the plasma bank and some people have also donated. As we all know there is no vaccine for novel coronavirus yet, but plasma therapy seems to be quite helpful for COVID patients," Kejriwal said.

It (plasma donation) was happening in a scattered way, so the idea was to bring it at one place in an organised manner, he said.

Plasma therapy involves taking antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing those into a coronavirus-infected patient to help kickstart the immune system to fight the infection.

Explaining the procedure of donating plasma, an official said it is separated from the blood of donor using a plasmapheresis machine. ILBS has 10 of these machines at present, and two more are expected to arrive soon, a senior doctor at the institute said.

On the first day, many who have recovered from COVID-19, including the ILBS staff, donated plasma.

Sources said about 90 staff at ILBS have tested positive till date.

For donors, there are some strict criteria and counselling and screening is done for them before the actual donation process begins, so, about two to two-and-a-half hours is the total time per donor, the doctor said.

"Also, we do TTI (Transfusion Transmissible Infections) tests. So, the donor should not have HIV, hepatitis B or C, syphilis among other ailments. The donor also should not have any co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension or renal problems," she said.

Each donor, a person who has recently recovered from COVID-19, develops antibodies, which are transferred to the recipient through plasma.

"Each person can donate 250-500 ml of plasma. We give first dosage of 250 ml to the recipient, and if needed a second dosage of 250 ml after 24 hours," a senior doctor at LNJP hospital said.

In a related development, the Delhi government constituted a 12-member expert panel to suggest measures for economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 in the national capital, a statement said.

The city government also announced a remote teaching-learning plan for all classes in its schools in wake of the closure due to COVID-19 pandemic.

While the plan focuses on reducing academic loss of students, the government is focusing on addressing the issues of digital divide as not all students have access to internet or smartphones, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia announced.

Schools in Delhi have been shut till July 31.

(With inputs from PTI)