Daily Covid deaths dip below 100 for the first time in 10 days; 5,475 new cases
For the second straight day on Thursday, Delhi’s Covid-19 test positivity rate remained below 10%even as the national capital added 5,475 new cases, a marginal increase from the previous day, but significantly lower from the highs seen two weeks ago.
Delhi added an average of 5,805 new cases a day in the seven days ending November 26, down from 6,228 in the week before that, and 7,196 in the week ending November 12.
Meanwhile, of the 63,266 tests conducted on Thursday, 28,897 were conducted using the gold standard reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method, the most in a single-day so far.
The positivity rate in Delhi — 8.65% on Thursday — has dropped consistently from the levels it breached in the first half of this month. In fact, as per the November 15 state health bulletin, the city’s test positivity rate had hit a 140-day high of 15.33%.
Experts regard the positivity rate — the proportion of samples that return positive among total tested — as a crucial metric to judge the spread of an infection. According to recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO), the positivity rate from a region that has a comprehensive testing programme should be at or below 5% for at least two weeks before it can be considered that the outbreak is under control in the region.
The single-day death toll also dipped slightly with Delhi reporting 91 new deaths on Thursday, as compared to 99 on Wednesday, and 109 the day before that. The Capital added over 100 daily deaths for five days, between November 20 and November 24.
With 5,475 new cases being reported on Thursday, Delhi’s tally has crossed 550,000 cases, according to the daily health bulletin released by the Delhi government. So far, 8,811 people have died of the infection in Delhi since the first case was detected on March 2. Of the total deaths, 2,300 happened in November, as per the data.
The seven-day case fatality ratio (CFR) – the proportion of deaths among those who test positive – remained at 1.8%, which has increased from 0.85% at the beginning of the month.
“The positivity rate was less than 8.5% yesterday (Wednesday). On November 7, the positivity rate was 15.2%. Over the past three weeks, the positivity rate has been going down steadily,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said in a press briefing.
Dr Vivek Nangia, head of the department of pulmonology at Max hospital, Saket, said, “People have started taking Covid-19 lightly and because of that there has been a spurt in cases. This is usually the time when people get the common cold and seasonal flu. So most people are ignoring symptoms. Everyone must get tested two to three days after they get symptoms of cough and fever. They should rush to a hospital if their oxygen saturation drops -- there is generally a feeling of breathlessness, fingers turn blue, and a person feels disoriented.”
The government has been working on increasing the number of tests, especially the more accurate RT-PCR tests, after a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah 10 days ago. However, the numbers have remained stagnant at about 61,000.
The proportion of RT PCR tests has increased to an average of 43.5% of the total tests over the past seven days, as compared to 36.8% the week before, and 30.5% the week before that.
“We are trying to increase the number of RT-PCR tests, over 35,000 samples are being collected. But, it was said that labs have a capacity to test 35,000 samples and they are unable to give reports within a day. Now, you will hear people say that their samples were collected two or three days before results came. Testing has reached a saturation level,” Jain said during the briefing.
The government has also asked experts for measures that can be implemented to reduce the number of deaths from the infection. There have been around 100 deaths each day for the past 10 days in the city. “Yesterday, there was a meeting with experts and chief minister Kejriwal has asked whether there was a need to change protocols to reduce the number of deaths,” Jain said.
Stepping up its preparedness, the government has increased the number of intensive care unit beds by 843 in the past five days, as per data on the Delhi corona app. But there is a long way to go before Delhi’s positivity rate reaches the desired 5% or less.