Delhi logs 85 new infections but caseload trajectory remains flat

Updated on Dec 17, 2021 03:46 AM IST

Delhi has added an average of 52 cases a day over the past week, showed state government data higher than the seven-day average two weeks ago. In the seven days ending December 2, Delhi added an average of 33 cases a day

Delhi has completely vaccinated 10 million of its residents against Covid-19. And while nearly 97% of Delhi’s 15 million adults have received at least a single vaccine dose, the remaining five million children are still beyond the ambit of inoculation. (HT Archive)
Delhi has completely vaccinated 10 million of its residents against Covid-19. And while nearly 97% of Delhi’s 15 million adults have received at least a single vaccine dose, the remaining five million children are still beyond the ambit of inoculation. (HT Archive)
BySaurya Sengupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The national capital added 85 Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the most in 161 days, even as the positivity rate hit a nearly six-month high of 0.15% -- and while the absolute numbers are still very small, experts advised caution given the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Delhi has added an average of 52 cases a day over the past week, showed state government data higher than the seven-day average two weeks ago. In the seven days ending December 2, Delhi added an average of 33 cases a day.

The city last saw more cases on July 8, when it added 93 infections.

The positivity rate on Thursday was last at this level on June 29, and higher on June 22, when the number touched 0.20%.

Delhi has completely vaccinated 10 million of its residents against Covid-19. And while nearly 97% of Delhi’s 15 million adults have received at least a single vaccine dose, the remaining five million children are still beyond the ambit of inoculation.

Experts termed Thursday’s case spike a matter of concern, especially when read in the backdrop of the Omicron threat.

So far, six people in Delhi have been diagnosed with the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

“It is definitely a cause for concern especially because Omicron is now all over the world. So far, 71 countries have reported Omicron cases. So if you look for it you will find it,” said Dr GC Khilnani, former head of the department of pulmonology at AIIMS and chairman of PSRI Institute of Pulmonary and Critical Care

To be sure, Delhi’s caseload is still at record lows, as it has been for around seven months, after the fourth wave of infections (between April and May) flattened out.

The city hasn’t seen a single Covid-19 death in eight days, according to government data, with the last fatality on December 8. As of Wednesday, 25,100 people in the city have succumbed to the infection since the outbreak of the pandemic in early March last year. But Covid-19 fatalities have been rare since the fourth wave bottomed out in May, and resultant deaths fell to single-digits in mid-June.

The last 100 Covid-19 deaths in Delhi have been recorded over 164 days, state government data shows. In comparison, the previous 100 deaths came in 14 days, while the 100 before those came in just six days.

A devastating wave between April and May left hundreds of thousands infected, and 13,100 dead. At the peak of this period, Delhi added over 400 deaths for three straight days (from May 1 to 3).

Experts have previously that the sheer scale of infection spread in that period, coupled with a strong rate of vaccinations would have contributed to Delhi’s thin Covid-19 caseload over the past few months. This was borne out by results of the city’s sixth serological survey, samples for which were collected in end-September. A preliminary report released by the state government last month showed that 97 of every 100 people living in the city had antibodies to the coronavirus, either due to previous infection or inoculation.

However, doctors pointed out that immunity due to vaccines waned significantly after six months, reaffirming the need for booster doses.

“Research in Israel, Canada and US has shown immunity is 20% to 50% after six months of vaccination. So there is no question that boosters are important. The elderly, those with comorbidities and frontline workers should be prioritised,” said Dr Khilnani.

Delhi government spokespersons did not respond to requests for comment.

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