A health worker collects a swab sample for Covid-19 testing at Tilak Nagar in New Delhi on Wednesday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)
A health worker collects a swab sample for Covid-19 testing at Tilak Nagar in New Delhi on Wednesday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT photo)

Delhi runs record 78,949 tests, positivity rate drops to 5%

Delhi on Wednesday created a new record, conducting more than 70,000 tests for the viral Covid-19 in a day, almost half of which were done using the more accurate RT-PCR method.
By Anonna Dutt | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 03, 2020 05:04 AM IST

Delhi on Wednesday created a new record, conducting more than 70,000 tests for the viral Covid-19 in a day, almost half of which were done using the more accurate RT-PCR method.

The daily state bulletin on Wednesday said that the city had conducted 78,949 tests in a day, including the highest number of RT-PCR tests at 36,370.

The state reported 3,944 new cases and 82 deaths due to Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the total number of people affected by the viral infection in the city to more than 578,000 . At least 9,342 people have succumbed to the virus, so far.

So far, the highest number of tests conducted in a day in the city was 69,051 on November 28. The government had planned to scale up testing to between 100,000 and 120,000 tests a day in mid-November after a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah.

Despite the high number of tests, the positivity rate — proportion of samples that return positive among those tested — dipped to 5%. The positivity rate in the city has dropped below the current 5% only once so far.It was 4.99% on October 6.

During the “third wave” of cases, the daily positivity rate in the city had shot up to a high of 15.33% on November 15.

“Positivity declined to 5% today from 15.26% on November 7. Highest total tests 78949 and highest RT-PCR tests (36,370) ever with lowest RT-PCR positivity of 8.99%. Steadily corona cases and positivity coming down. Hope this will continue. Please observe all precautions,” said Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain in a tweet. On November 7, the positivity rate as per RT PCR tests had touched 30%, the highest so far.

Experts believe that the spread of the infection has been controlled if a positivity rate of 5% or less is maintained for two weeks. During the month of November, there was a difference of almost 16% on average in positivity rate of RT-PCR tests and rapid antigen tests conducted, data shared by the health minister shows. For Tuesday, the positivity rate of samples tested using RT-PCR and other molecular tests was 8.9% as compared to 1.6% among those tested using rapid antigen test.

“The current peak in the number of cases was driven by the interaction of people during the festive season and the high levels of pollution. Now, both have gone down – people are stepping out but there is no mad rush at the markets and the pollution levels are also much better. With such a huge number of cases, I think at least 40% or even more of Delhi’s population may have been exposed to the infection. This means we are unlikely to see huge surge in number of cases again; now fewer number of infections would persist,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

With the decrease in the number of cases being reported daily, the number of hospitalisations has also gone down. For the first time since November first week, the number of people admitted to hospitals across the city with the infection came down to 7,366.

This is still higher than the peak number of hospitalisation – just over 7,000 – seen during the second surge in the number of cases Delhi had seen in September. As for the first wave of infections, at its peak just over 6,200 people were in hospitals.

The rising number of hospitalisations, especially those in need of critical care, had prompted the Delhi government to increase 663 ICU beds in its own hospitals and ask around 75 private hospitals to reserve 80% of their total ICU beds for the treatment of Covid-19.

“Bed vacancy for Covid patients in Delhi hospitals increased to 11,341 from 7,973 since Nov 11 (more than 60% Covid beds are now vacant). During the same period, ICU bed vacancy increased to 1,732 from 518. Since Nov 7 Covid severity is coming down. Please observe all precautions,” said Jain in a tweet.

As on Wednesday evening, almost 39% of the hospital beds earmarked for Covid-19 were occupied and just about 65% of the ICU beds were occupied, according to the data on government’s Delhi corona app.

The ICU occupancy had gone up to 86% during the current surge in infections. Despite fewer hospitalisations, ventilator beds in big hospitals like Sir Ganga Ram, Indraprastha Apollo, Max, and Fortis continue to be completely full.

“Our ICUs are still running at capacity and even the wards are full. This is because we had long waiting lists of people and we get patients referred to from smaller centres as well. However, seeing that the number of cases in the city are on the decline, it is likely that we will start seeing a decline in some says,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, director and head of the department of pulmonology at Fortis, Shalimar Bagh.

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