Daily covid cases grow by 50%, harsher curbs unlikely soon

Published on Jan 01, 2022 10:55 PM IST

Delhi added 2,716 cases of Covid-19, according to the state’s Saturday health bulletin, 51% more than the 1,796 infections the Capital saw on Friday. The spike on Saturday was the highest in a single-day since May 21, when the city recorded 3,009 infections.

A long queue of commuters outside Rajiv Chowk Metro station, on Saturday when Delhi recorded 2,716 cases of Covid-19, nearly 50% more than Friday’s 1,796. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A long queue of commuters outside Rajiv Chowk Metro station, on Saturday when Delhi recorded 2,716 cases of Covid-19, nearly 50% more than Friday’s 1,796. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
BySaurya Sengupta and Alok K N Mishra

New Delhi: Daily Covid-19 infections in the Capital jumped over 50% on Saturday as the latest surge of infections, fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, continued to spread its footprint in Delhi, with the test positivity rate shooting past 3% even as the Delhi government said it was closely monitoring the situation but did not plan to impose fresh economic and travel restrictions in view of the low rate of hospitalisations.

Delhi added 2,716 cases of Covid-19, according to the state’s Saturday health bulletin, 51% more than the 1,796 infections the Capital saw on Friday. The spike on Saturday was the highest in a single-day since May 21, when the city recorded 3,009 infections.

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Of nearly 75,000 samples collected on Saturday, 3.64% returned positive results as this statistic - the test positivity rate - also hit its highest mark in Delhi since May 21, when 4.76% samples returned positive results.

The city also recorded one death of the infection, after adding no fatalities in the last three days of December.

A senior government official said for the time being status quo will be maintained with regard to restrictions being enforced in the Capital, and added that government was closely monitoring the situation. “There is no need to panic because though the surge is sharp, the infection is mild,” said the official who asked not to be named,

Currently Delhi is under yellow alert – the first level of restrictions under Graded Response Action Plan - triggered when positivity rate stayed above 0.5% for two consecutive days. It led to a night curfew, closing of schools, colleges, movie theatres and gyms. Immediately after the restrictions were imposed business community and health experts said the government must readjust the restrictions to account for Omicron variant’s reduced virulence.

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Official aware of the matter on Saturday said even though the positivity rate breached 2% on Saturday, the government may not invoke the orange alert under which harsher curbs such as Metro, malls and non-essential offices are ordered shut along with imposition of full curfew on weekend.

The city’s Covid-19 curve has spiked upwards sharply since mid-December, fuelled majorly by the Omicron variant, according to one study. In the first half of December, Delhi recorded a total of 740 fresh infections. In the second, this number grew nearly nine times to 6,361.

Between December 21 and 28, the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) analysed 125 samples, of which 67 (54%) were of the Omicron variant.

Delhi has, over the past seven days, recorded an average of 1,124 fresh cases each day. This is the first time this number, known as the case trajectory, has crossed the 1,000 mark since end-May, when the fourth wave of the pandemic in Delhi began to level out.

However, even after two weeks of consistent uptick in cases, Covid-19 hospitalisations continue to remain low in the city, with nearly 21,000 beds vacant in the city’s health care facilities, according to data from the state government’s Delhi Corona App.

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The number of single-day recoveries also hit a nearly seven-month high on Saturday, according to the health bulletin, which showed that 765 people in Delhi recovered from Covid-19. This is the most in a day since 876 people recovered on June 7 last year.

Deaths too have been at low levels in that time, with nine people succumbing to the infection throughout December. In comparison, seven people died of the infection in November, and four in October.

These numbers underline global trends that the Omicron variant appears to be more transmissible but less virulent, and that the variant of concern (VOC) does not crowd hospitals like the Delta variant did.

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital, said: “The positivity rate will witness a sharper increase in the weeks to come but the examples of other parts of the world shows that the cases will soon start coming down. So, there is no need to panic. There is possibility that more new positive cases will be found in the community which is still negligible as compared to UK, US, Canada, and others.”

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