Record 7,745 fresh coronavirus infections in Delhi

Delhi reported 7,745 cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on Sunday, the biggest jump in infections so far, even as the Capital’s health minister said that the city appeared to be hitting the peak of the third wave, which was the worst one so far.

The alarming jump in cases came just two days after the national Capital recorded more than 7,000 cases in a single day for the first time ever. On Saturday, it added 6,953 cases. Heavy crowds could be seen at markets across the Capital on Sunday, just days ahead of the festival of Diwali.

With Sunday’s alarming jump in cases, Delhi’s total number of cases rose to 438,529, and 77 new deaths took the toll to 6,989. While 50,754 tests were conducted, the positivity rate soared to 15.26%, said the government’s health bulletin.

Experts have stressed the need for the Delhi government to further increase testing and said that a fast-rising positivity rate is an indicator that a region is not testing adequately. They have also warned that daily cases in Delhi could go up to 15,000 a day during the ongoing festival season and the winter months.

“The third wave of Covid-19 is at its peak in Delhi. The number of cases suggests it is the worst wave so far. But the cases will come down soon,” Jain said during an official visit to Rajasthan’s Dungarpur. He attributed the increase in the Covid-19 numbers to the government’s “aggressive testing and contact-tracing” policies.

Jain said that the first wave hit its peak on June 23 (3,947 cases) and the second on September 17 (4,432 cases). He said the Delhi government currently has no plans yet to rope in hotels and banquet halls to augment the bed capacity for Covid-19 patients as they have already increased the number of beds in hospitals.

Currently, there are 16,167 general hospital beds and 3,305 intensive care unit (ICU) beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients in more than 100 hospitals – both public and private – in Delhi. Of these, 8,064 general beds and 2,661 ICU beds were occupied on Sunday evening, government records showed.

The government recently added 500 general beds and 110 ICU beds in 10 government hospitals, and 685 beds for Covid-19 patients in three private hospitals. On September 22, the Delhi high court stayed the Delhi government’s order to increase ICU beds in private hospitals. Last week, the Delhi government filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to lift the stay on the reservation of beds in private hospitals.

Jain said that slackness on the part of the people was one of the reasons behind the surge. “Some people think nothing will happen to them if they don’t wear a mask,” he added.

The case trajectory in Delhi shows three distinct surges. The first started in mid-June, and peaked when the seven-day average of daily cases, also known as the case trajectory, touched around 3,400 in the last week of June. This dropped to about 1,000 a day by the end of July. It remained in that range for a month, and the second surge started towards the end of August, rising till the middle of September, when average daily cases touched 4,174.

Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research, said: “The increased rate indicates high transmission rate of the virus at this point. To some extent it also indicates that the government is currently testing a higher proportion of high-risk individuals, which include close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases. People should not let their guard down. They should strictly wear masks and maintain social distancing. By the current trends, it seems that the spike in cases would continue for another three to four weeks unless the government takes a call on imposing restrictions again on non-essential activities.”

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) – in a report drafted in October along with NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul, who is an adviser to the central government – had warned that Delhi needed to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh Covid-19 cases daily, taking into account the winter season-related respiratory problems, large influx of patients from outside and festival-related gatherings.

(With inputs from PTI)

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