Delhi has seen a dramatic fall in its daily Covid-19 cases since it recorded its peak of 3,947 infections on June 23. The daily count had dropped to a low of 613 on July 27 and settled at 961 on August 2 — only the third instance in two months when the single-day count was less than 1,000.
Massive Dip in Daily New Cases
From an average of 3,333 daily cases for the week ending June 28, the mean dipped to 2,338 on July 5. It came down to 1,864 on the 12th of July and further declined to 1,471 for the week ending 19th of July. The average stood at 1,116 for the week ending July 26 and has further fallen to 1,010 as on August 2.
No other major city in India has witnessed such a dramatic fall (by more than three times) in the average number of daily new cases during this period.
Mumbai’s daily average has fallen marginally from 1,311 cases on the 29th of June to 1,039 on August 2. Chennai has seen its average fall from 1,888 cases on June 29 to 1,037 on August 2.
Delhi’s rate of growth of cases is second-lowest only to Mumbai (among eight major cities of India) over the last month. While Delhi has massively ramped up its testing numbers from end June, Mumbai has also started conducting almost double the number of daily tests from the last week of July.
A better estimate to gauge the current extent of the spread of the virus is the Positivity Rate in the two cities.
Weekly Positivity Rate Down to 6.04%
One of the major reasons for the success in containing the number of cases (and deaths) in Delhi has been its ramped up testing. High testing means more positive cases are detected, treated and isolated, thus keeping the spread of the infection low.
The national capital has conducted a total of 10.6 lakh Covid-19 tests till date — by far the highest among all cities in India. In terms of number of Tests Per 1 Million Population, Delhi with 53,700, has again tested the maximum number in proportion to its population amongst all major states in India.
Delhi’s Weekly Positivity Rate has gone down from 10.97% on the 6th of July to 6.05% on the 2nd of August. This basically implies that one in every 17 people being tested in Delhi currently is returning Covid-19 positive.
Its Daily Positivity Rate went below 6% four times in the previous week.
Mumbai’s Weekly Positivity Rate has almost halved from 20.15% on the 19th of July to 10.72% on the 1st of August but is still substantially higher than Delhi.
However, there is a caveat! While Delhi has tested more and seen a dip in the Positivity Rate, questions have been raised over the high ratio of antigen vs RT-PCR tests being employed. A very small percentage of the antigen negative is being re-tested by the RT-PCR test and this may lead to an underestimation of cases and give a false sense of security and an inaccurate estimate of the decline in new cases.
But there are two other indicators which suggest that Delhi is on the right track – its Reproduction Number and its Falling Mortality Rate.
R-Value Below 1 Since Beginning of July
The R-Value is the reproduction number or transmission rate and is defined as the number of people one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.
It is an estimate of measuring a disease’s ability to spread.
According to Sitabhra Sinha of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, the R-Value in Delhi first went below 1 in the second week of July. It was 0.66 between July 23 and 26 which basically meant that every 100 infected people in Delhi were passing the infection to only 66 other people.
The decline in the R-Value indicates the beginning of the end of a pandemic.
An R-Value of less than 1 suggests that a large proportion of a population has developed immunity against the virus.
Professor Sinha estimated that the number of active cases in Delhi could see a massive decline within a month and fall below 1,000 by the first week of September. Currently, there are 10,207 active cases in the city.
Nearly 90% (89.72%) of the total number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi have recovered – it is the highest Recovery Percentage amongst all major cities and states in India!
Maharashtra has a Recovery Rate of 62.7%, Tamil Nadu – 76.3%, Gujarat – 73.2%, Madhya Pradesh – 70.2% and West Bengal – 69.8%. Mumbai has a Recovery Rate of 76% and Chennai – 86%.
However, one has to be cautious as the recently conducted Sero-Survey in Delhi concluded that only 23.48% of the city’s population had been affected by the virus leaving more than three-fourths still vulnerable.
Mortality Numbers Witness Drastic Fall
The average number of daily Covid-19 fatalities in Delhi has almost reduced by two-third from 70 in the week ending June 22 to 24 on the 3rd of August. Delhi has reported less than 30 daily deaths from the 25th of July with the number going down to below 20 on the 2nd and 3rd of August.
The overall Mortality Rate has fallen from 3.72% on the 20th of June to 3.12% on the 1st of July to 3.02% on the 10th of July to 2.96% on the 20th to 2.90% on the 3rd of August.
This, by far, is the greatest achievement of the administration and authorities over the last one and a half months as nothing is more important during a pandemic than saving lives!
The percentage of vacant beds in hospitals has also increased significantly from 46.71% on June 10 to 51.48% on June 20 to 55.43% on June 29 to 75.14% on July 16 to 81.08% on the 29th of July, suggesting that the number of critical and severely affected patients has significantly reduced.
Delhi has done a remarkable job over the last 4-6 weeks - from where it was in June to be in the position it is today is a commendable effort. But the good work needs to continue and there can be no room for complacency.