Covid-19: Decoding the Delhi spike | HT Editorial
On Thursday, Delhi recorded 1,024 cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). It conducted 7,615 tests. And it had a positivity rate of 13.4%. The capital now has the third highest number of cases in the country, after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
There are three separate issues here. The first is the increase in cases. This is not a reason to get alarmed. It, in fact, reflects the fact that Delhi is testing more people — at 9,689 tests per million, it has the best testing rate among the worst-hit states. As is now globally recognised, testing widely is the only way to track the infected, isolate them, treat those who are severely affected, and ensure that they don’t transmit the infection to others. With more relaxations in both mobility and economic activity, cases will inevitably rise more. The second issue is the positivity rate. In the week ending on Thursday, Delhi’s positivity rate was 12.2%. This is a matter of concern, for it shows that, among the people who are being tested, more are turning out to be positive in the Capital than in most other states. This, then, indicates a more comprehensive spread of the disease in the Capital than has been estimated so far. The third element is deaths. While there has been a debate on the official numbers, Delhi’s death rate remains lower than the national fatality rate. This, in turn, means that most patients have symptoms which dissipate with care and treatment.
All of this then has to be the basis for the four-pronged policy response. One, to get an accurate sense of the spread of the disease, Delhi will need to ramp up its testing even more. Only this will help keep those infected away from those who are not as movement increases even further. Two, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has claimed that Delhi has adequate health infrastructure to deal with a surge. But if the city has to prevent what is happening in Mumbai, it is key to increase the number of beds available and pull in more private facilities for the purpose. Three, the Delhi government has rightly focused on home isolation. For a majority of patients, this is the best way out — but it requires patients to be responsible and constantly monitor their health. And finally, it will help if the government is more transparent with data — and provide a district-wise break up within the capital of cases, deaths, and other relevant parameters.