A health worker in PPE holds up a swab sample collected for coronavirus screening, at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS), in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
A health worker in PPE holds up a swab sample collected for coronavirus screening, at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS), in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Delhi: 0.24% of 5.73 million screened during survey had Covid-19 symptoms

Around 6.42% -- both symptomatic persons and contacts of Covid-19 patients in high-risk areas who have undergone tests under the survey till Tuesday -- have tested positive for the virus, according to the government data accessed by HT.
By Risha Chitlangia and Abhishek Dey | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 26, 2020 05:25 AM IST

A total of 13,516 persons (0.24%) of the 5.73 million screened as part of the Delhi government’s ongoing door-to-door survey, were found to have symptoms of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) till Tuesday, while 1,178 persons have tested positive for the disease. The survey was launched on November 20 and will likely conclude on Thursday.

Around 6.42% -- both symptomatic persons and contacts of Covid-19 patients in high-risk areas who have undergone tests under the survey till Tuesday -- have tested positive for the virus, according to the government data accessed by HT.

The survey, which was launched on the directions of Union home minister Amit Shah in light of the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the national capital, was supposed to cover around 5.8 million people – more than one-fourth of Delhi’s total population of around 20 million – mainly residing in the over 4,500 containment zones and other areas assessed as hot spots in the 11 revenue districts.

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According to the data compiled till Tuesday night, the government had surveyed 5.73 million individuals (residing in 1.35 million households) in certain identified areas. Of the 5.73 million, 13,516 (0.24%) were found symptomatic of the disease. Of these 13, 516 symptomatic individuals, the data shows that 11,790 were sent for testing. Similarly, of the 8,413 persons who were identified as contacts of Covid-19 cases, 6,546 were sent for testing.

Of the total 18,336 people tested, 1,178 persons came positive for Covid-19 -- a positivity rate of around 6.42%.

 

Around 9,000 teams of three people each – comprising government officials and employees with the civic agencies – were engaged in the survey that covered all 11 revenue districts of the city.

“Once the final report is prepared, we shall analyse trends and ensure that they help in strengthening the strategy to fight Covid-19,” said Delhi’s revenue minister Kailash Gahlot.

Of the 11 revenue districts in Delhi, the central district reported the highest positivity rate of 37.26% -- of the 773 symptomatic individuals and contacts of Covid-19 patients who were tested, 288 had Covid-19.

Shahdara district had zero positivity rate, as none of the 901 persons who were tested had Covid-19. A senior official with the revenue department, on condition of anonymity, said the test results are awaited in most other districts.

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Among the 11 revenue districts, the maximum number of people -- 1,046,727 -- were surveyed in south-west district of whom 3,796 were found to be symptomatic of Covid-19.

The highest number of Covid-19 patient contacts --2,475 -- were identified and tested in the west district.

A second senior official of the revenue department, which is heading the survey, said all symptomatic people and contacts of Covid-19 patients were tested with RT-PCR kits, which are considered to be more accurate compared to rapid antigen tests that, though quicker, often throw up false negatives. The survey would most likely be completed by Thursday morning, the official said, requesting anonymity.

“The scale of the exercise was huge, so we needed a lot of people. Each team was given thermal scanners and oximeters to screen residents,” said the second official.

The official continued, “Those who have tested positive have been isolated and are under treatment. These symptomatic people were otherwise not getting tested. This exercise has also helped us in creating awareness about the disease and telling people that they should not take Covid/flu symptoms lightly. It is important to get tested if you have any symptoms.”

Dr Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital, said the number of symptomatic patients identified during the survey is very less, especially during this time of the year. “Cough, cold and other influenza-like symptoms are very common during winter. Usually, there is a spike in such cases. With Covid-19, the numbers should have been much more.”

Analysing the government data, Dr Kishore said, “The fact that 6.42% symptomatic individuals and patient contacts have tested positive shows that a large number of people in these surveyed areas have been exposed to the virus.”

Dr Jacob John, former head of clinical virology, Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, said, “The survey was necessary in Delhi in light of the severe spike in Covid-19 cases of late. Even though the survey has identified only around 13,500 symptomatic people, about 8,500 patient contacts and about 1,200 Covid-19 positive individuals so far, despite covering a significant chunk of the population, the exercise has helped in assessing the scenario in the city. The government should isolate all these identified persons.”

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