Delhi’s Covid-19 deaths in September the lowest since 1st month of outbreak

Updated on Oct 01, 2021 04:43 AM IST
  • The statistic, culled from the government’s daily health bulletins, comes even as the seven-day average of deaths from Covid-19, nationally, hit a six-month low of 288.
So far, according to data from the state government, 25,087 people in Delhi have died of Covid-19. (HT Photo)
So far, according to data from the state government, 25,087 people in Delhi have died of Covid-19. (HT Photo)
BySaurya Sengupta, New Delhi

Delhi saw only five deaths from the coronavirus disease in September, the least in a month since March 2020, when the pandemic broke, a number that highlights the near-return-to-normalcy of a region battered by the most recent wave of the viral infection in April and May.

The statistic, culled from the government’s daily health bulletins, comes even as the seven-day average of deaths from Covid-19, nationally, hit a six-month low of 288.

In Delhi, no Covid-19 deaths were registered in 26 days last month. The city added one death each on September 7, 16 and 17, and logged two on September 28. That would make its seven-day average of deaths 0.28.

The city’s seven-day average of daily new cases on September 30 was 33 compared to the national number of 25,530.

With over 38.5% of its eligible population fully vaccinated and another 41.5% having received one dose of the vaccine, experts say that the September numbers call for the easing of more restrictions. Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health expert, said that given the low caseload in the city, activities should stay open, and advocated for reopening schools for all classes, especially primary ones.

“Schools should be open, and primary classes should be the first to be reopened,” said Dr Lahariya, arguing that children were at a comparatively low risk of falling ill from Covid-19.

The number of active cases in Delhi on September 30 was 400.

Delhi registered two Covid-19 deaths in March 2020. To be sure, the first case of the viral disease was registered on March 2 last year, and the first death of the infection was reported 11 days later, when a 69-year-old woman succumbed to the disease.

So far, according to data from the state government, 25,087 people in Delhi have died of Covid-19. Nearly a third of these came in May this year, when 8,090 people succumbed to the infection, at the height of the city’s fourth surge in infections. Over half of Delhi’s Covid-19 deaths, 13,210, to be precise, came in April and May, as an unprecedented surge in cases led by the more infectious Delta variant of the Sars-Cov-2 virus ravaged the city. Oxygen supplies ran thin across hospitals, most beds were occupied, and even crematoriums were packed as residents from across Delhi and the National Capital Region scrambled for health care.

The most deaths on a single day came on May 3, when 448 people succumbed to the infection.

The state government put in place a lockdown from April 19, to stem the spread of infections, and the surge began to peter out in mid-May.

Delhi added 47 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, showed state government data, the 93rd consecutive day that the city registered fewer than 100 fresh infections. The daily average of cases over the past week, also known as case trajectory, was 33 as on Thursday evening, with the number at its lowest levels since the outbreak of the infection in March last year.

Thursday’s infections came on the back of 72,386 tests, at a positivity rate of 0.06%.

The test positivity rate is a crucial metric to understand the spread of an infection in a region. As a rule of thumb, tracking a region’s positivity rate serves as a good barometer for whether cases are going to increase or decrease in the coming days: a rising positivity rate generally means cases will rise in the immediate future, while a dropping positivity rate tends to precede a drop in new infections.

In Delhi, this number has been below 5% for 133 days, below 1% for 123 days, and below 0.10% for 53 days.

Experts attributed the downturn in Delhi’s Covid-19 graph to a combination of two factors — natural immunity gained from past infections and vaccinations.

Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the epidemiology division at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said a lot of people in Delhi fell severely ill during the April and May surge, leaving survivors with a high level of antibodies.

The last serological survey conducted in Delhi in April, which was truncated due to the spike in infections, showed that 56% of the 13,000 samples collected had antibodies to the Sars-Cov-2 virus. The previous five surveys returned readings of 56.13%, 25.5%, 25.1%, 29.1%, and 22.6%, respectively.

A seventh survey is ongoing in Delhi, and its results are expected to be out by mid-October.

“The antibody levels in those with serious symptoms would be higher than those who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. This, combined with the number of vaccinations in the city will have also contributed to the drop in deaths,” said Dr Kant.

Dr Lahariya, meanwhile, said that a surge in cases as severe as Delhi’s fourth wave is “unlikely”.

“Even if there is a rise in cases, it is very, very unlikely that it will be of the magnitude of what we saw during the second wave [Delhi’s fourth] of infections,” he said.

State government officials attributed the drop in deaths and infections to the Arvind Kejriwal government’s focus on “micro-level monitoring and management”.

“The number of cases has reduced because of the government paying extra care towards micro-level monitoring and management of Covid-19 testing, vaccination and ensuring public places do not get crowded,” the Delhi government said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Kejriwal government has shown absolute resilience in its fight against Covid-19 and is actively working towards sensitising the citizens and spreading awareness even at the most minute levels to protect as many people as possible,” the statement added.

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