1,881 infections: Biggest 1-day spike since Dec 13
Delhi logged an average of 1,390 new cases every day over the previous week, as against 613 cases in the week ending March 21.
The Capital recorded 1,881 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, the biggest single-day jump in 105 days, and the overall death toll in the city crossed the 11,000 mark, as the fourth wave of infections continued unabated in the city ahead of the festive season. State government officials implored residents to avoid gatherings and keep up Covid-appropriate behaviour like mask-wearing and social distancing, while experts urged authorities to step up testing and clamp down on norm violations.
Before this, the highest one-day infection spike was on December 13 last year, when the city added 1,984 new cases.
Cases have surged in the national capital over the past few weeks, as India entered its second wave of infections. Coronavirus disease cases in India are rising at a rate not seen since May last year, and the daily infections in two states — Maharashtra and Gujarat — have already hit record highs, indicating that the country’s second wave may be worse than the first wave, despite the ongoing vaccination drive.
The seven-day average of new cases, also known as case trajectory, has more than doubled in the city over the past week. Delhi logged an average of 1,390 new cases every day over the previous week, as against 613 cases in the week ending March 21. The city had logged an average of 371 cases each day in the week ending March 14.
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Worryingly, the test positivity rate, which is regarded as a metric to gauge the scale of infection spread, hit a 104-day high on Sunday, with 2.35% of the 79,936 samples testing positive for Covid-19. This number, which was below 1% in Delhi for 82 days, crossed the 2% threshold for the first time since December 14.
Further, Sunday’s case spike came on the back of significantly fewer tests. Saturday’s bulletin showed that Delhi had conducted 91,703 new tests, 11,767 more than on Sunday.
Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday said the situation in the Capital is “under control,” but appealed to residents to wear masks, and to abide by distancing measures.
“I urge people to avoid gatherings, events and celebrating festivals in public areas in the coming days,” he said.
Earlier in the day, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal made similar appeals.
The daily health bulletin on Sunday added nine more deaths to the city’s tally. The infection has now claimed 11,006 lives in the Capital. The city added an average of seven Covid-19 deaths every day over the past week, up significantly from the two deaths added every day in the week ending March 21.
As on March 1, Delhi had 1,404 active cases. The number has now increased to 7,545, government records showed. The case trajectory of the city was the lowest for the week ending February 12 when Delhi recorded 125 new cases per day.
Even though the government has so far ruled out the chances of a lockdown in Delhi, it has, over the last week, issued orders limiting the number of guests in marriages, funerals and social gatherings, and prohibited public celebrations of festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat and Navratri. The government has also started conducting random RT-PCR tests at entry points to the Capital such as airports, railway stations and bus terminals.
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In 2020, Delhi witnessed three distinct waves of severe spikes in Covid-19 cases. At the peak of the third wave, which has been the most severe in the city, Delhi added 8,593 new cases in a single day on November 11. Around the same time, the positivity rate was around 15% and the number of deaths in a day often crossed the 100-mark.
Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases department in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said, “There is a steep increase in numbers in this particular phase of spike in cases. This strongly suggests that variants of the virus may be playing a role... Delhi needs to scale up contact tracing and tests, especially RT-PCR tests, which are more accurate.”
Of the 79,956 tests on Sunday, 53,422 were RT-PCR tests. The others used the rapid antigen method, which is faster, but less accurate than RT-PCR tests.