Delhi: Total Covid-19 infections cross 100k, but number of new infections fall
The capital recorded 1,379 new cases, the lowest in a day since June 9, according to Delhi government data. The number of tests dipped from 23,136 in Sunday’s to 13,879 in Monday’s bulletin.Updated: Jul 07, 2020 02:09 IST
The number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases recorded in the national capital till now crossed the 100,000 mark on Monday, crossing a grim milestone that underlines the challenge in containing the outbreak even as daily numbers show a sustained decline.
The capital recorded 1,379 new cases, the lowest in a day since June 9, according to Delhi government data. The number of tests dipped from 23,136 in Sunday’s to 13,879 in Monday’s bulletin.
The capital’s first case was 127 days ago when on March 2, a 45-year-old man from Mayur Vihar tested positive after returning from Italy.
Senior government officials said the dip in the number of tests conducted on July 5 was because it was a Sunday. Government data confirmed the trend. On June 28 (Sunday), 16,157 tests were conducted and on June 21 (Sunday), 14,682 tests were conducted.
“On Saturday, all the 11 districts had conducted a total of 23,136 tests, which dropped to 13,879 on Sunday. These numbers include both RT-PCR and rapid antigen detection tests. Earlier also, the testing numbers had dipped on Sundays because fewer people turn up and fewer workers report to duty. They cannot be working seven days a week for months together,” a senior government official said.
The city touched the 1-lakh mark six days later than predicted by a five-member panel set up in the beginning of June to aid the Delhi government plan the increase of infrastructure. Contrary to what the committee had suggested, the number of active cases has also not shot up to 50,000-60,000 yet.
It has remained between 25,000-27,000 for the last two weeks—reaching a peak of 28,329 active cases on June 27.
“We had predicted the trajectory of the infection based on the trends then. Anyway, it was the worst-case scenario; now we are well-prepared to handle the cases. The number of active cases seems to have stabilised. This is mainly due to two reasons—now even though we are testing over 20,000 people a day, the positivity rate has been reducing—fewer new cases are being reported. At the same time, the number of recoveries has gone up,” said Dr Arun Gupta, one of the members of the panel and the president of Delhi Medical Council.
Even though it is declining, Delhi’s case fatality rate—the number of people who died of Covid-19—remains over 3%. This is slightly higher than the national average of about 2.8%.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal during a press briefing on Monday said the number of deaths due to Covid-19 has come down. “Earlier, over 125 deaths were being reported on a single day. Now there are 55 to 60 deaths daily. So, the umber of deaths has come down by half. It needs to be reduced further,” he said.
Dr Gupta said, “No one across the globe has been able to predict the behaviour of this infection; the models have all failed. But, from the current numbers, I feel that the number of new cases and new hospitalisations will start going down now.”
An increased recovery rate is the reason for the number of active cases stabilising. The number of recoveries shot up June 18 onwards when 3,884 people recovered or were discharged in one day, rather than the few hundred that were recovering before. According to the data provided by the Delhi government, the highest number of recoveries was recorded on June 20—7,725.
An increase in the number of cases in June and the revised discharge policy of the union health ministry—wherein a Covid-19 patient can be discharged 10 days after the onset of symptoms or three days after recovery—are likely the reasons for Delhi’s increased recovery rate.
On Monday, the recovery rate stood at 71.4%; it had crossed the 70%-mark a day ago.
“I do not know whether the increased recovery rate is because of a change in the behaviour of the virus. It could also be that we are testing more people in the community and detecting mild cases. However, I have always believed, that Sar-Cov-2 just like any other zoonotic virus will slowly adapt and become less virulent. However, the virus is unlikely to disappear, it will cause milder symptoms and people will get used to living with it. A vaccine will also help,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The data also shows that hospitalisations have started going down – with 5,250 people in hospitals on Monday as opposed to over 6,000 people that were in hospitals the week ending on June 28. This decline, however, is because of the decline in the number of new cases being recorded and not because the cases are milder.
The proportion of active cases that need hospitalisation has remained more or less the same at about 21%.
“It is too soon to judge whether the infection has peaked. The positivity rate has gone down since the rapid antigen tests began. They have been testing even the asymptomatic people in the community, which is likely the reason for brining down positivity rate. If you take a population that is likely to have the infection and test them, the positivity rate will be higher. Having said that, Covid-19 is likely to plateau in Delhi soon,” said Dr Broor.
Delhi’s positivity rate – proportion of people who test positive among those tested – has also continued to decline and came to a single digit for the first time on Sunday after May third week. On Sunday, only 2,244 of the 23,136 people tested turned out to be positive, bringing the positivity rate to 9.7%.
Experts say this is a positive sign as the number continues to decline despite increased testing.
The highest positivity rate of almost 37% was recorded on June 13 – when the number of tests being conducted in the city in a day had gone down. On average, 5,525 people were being tested in a single day then. Now, the figure stands at over 20,000.
The deployment of the rapid antigen testing helped the government in considerably scaling up testing, with the government now asking all hospitals to test people in the high-risk groups, such as older people and the immune-compromised to be tested mandatorily.