The national capital is now witnessing the beginning of a second wave of Covid-19. Even as the city is poised to enter the next stage of re-opening through the resumption of Delhi Metro, daily coronavirus cases cases are once again rising.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 2,509 cases, the highest number recorded since early July. The tally of active cases has reached 16,502. There had been no spike of inspection since mid-July; when the Delhi government, in collaboration with the Union Home Ministry, had ramped up testing to effectively track Covid-19 hotspots.
Over the last two weeks, the average daily case fatality trajectory has risen by 50%, said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry, on Thursday.
“After active cases rose in Delhi, the Home Ministry engaged with the Delhi government to curb infection, and the Lieutenant Governor held a meeting with the Chief Minister and officials from AIIMS and Niti Aayog in this regard,” said Bhushan.
The Delhi government’s health bulletin also revealed that a record 28, 835 tests were conducted. However, of these, 20,965 were rapid antigen tests and the rest comprised of RT-PCR, TruNat and CBNAAT tests.
Hospitals have seen a rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients and authorities are working on what they called a ‘revamped’ strategy, to curb infection amid the increased economic and social activities. As cases rise, authorities maintained that the surge has not reached alarming proportions but also admitted that they are keeping a close eye on the developments and strategies are being reworked to control the surge.
“We had a detailed review of the situation in Thursday’s meeting with the lieutenant-governor. A revamped strategy and comprehensive effort is being planned on important fronts - containment, surveillance, hospital management, testing strategy, ambulance preparedness and engagement with the pubic regarding Covid appropriate behavior,” said Dr VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog.
When asked about the reasons behind the sudden spike in case, Dr Paul credited the resumption in activities. “There has been a general uptick in activities; the labourers who had gone to their home states have started returning for work. I would say this is happening largely because we are moving towards new activities. We also need to remember that nearly 70 per cent of the city’s population is still susceptible," he added.
At Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital, which is Delhi's biggest Covid facility, admissions of coronavirus patients are also increasing. “We have seen an increase in the number of cases. In the last seven days or so we have seen 15-20% more caseload and we are also reporting a fair share of admissions of people who are from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Middle-aged and elderly people form the biggest chunk of the new patients we are admitting,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, Director, LNJP Hospital.
Officials from the Delhi health department said that while activities increase, the department is facing a few hiccups in contact-tracing. “People need to realise that 'unlocking' is primarily for economic activities and not for social activities. We have been noting instances where people, when called to collect information on their movement are not forthcoming with details. This is an impediment in tracing contacts and isolating those who might be at risk,” said a senior official.
However, a few experts said that the surge in Covid-19 infections was not completely unexpected, as similar surges had been witnessed in other nations. They emphasised that it was important to act fast.
“There can be multiple causes for the surge. It has been in seen in Hong Kong, London and Singapore. But it is important to note that mortality rate is not out of control even as the spread is wider," said Dr Mahesh Verma, member of Delhi government’s expert committee on hospital preparedness and Vice-Chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.
He added that measures to curb cases could not be slackened, especially as economic activities continued to resume in a phased manner. "We have to be to even more vigilant now," Dr Verma said.