BY ASHISH SRIVASTAVA
New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) While the spread of Covid-19 seems to be subsiding nationally, its tally is burgeoning in the capital city consistently for the last few days. Delhi witnessed the highest single day spike till date on Tuesday with 4853 new infections and 44 deaths reported. The tally in the national capital has crossed 3.64 lakhs.
Since Friday, Delhi has been reporting over 4,000 cases of COVID-19 daily. Over the last one week, the daily positivity rate – the percentage of people who test positive for the disease versus those who were tested – has also increased, faring above 8%. The situation suggests that the national capital is inching towards its third peak, as stated by the head of the national task force for Covid-19, Dr V.K. Paul on Tuesday.
Experts said that the situation will be challenging as the cases are expected to multiply in the coming weeks due to pollution, laxity and festivities.
Dr Prabhakaran Dorairaj, Professor, Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India, said that the cases are bound to increase as the combination of pollution, overcrowding and winter is proving to be a triple whammy. “The viral infections thrive in winters. They remain suspended for a longer time in the air in cold weather conditions. The pollution aids the longevity to the suspension of the virus. On the top of it, the lack of social distancing during the festivals is instigating the spread further,” he explained.
He said that the festivities have played a major role in the surge as well. “Durga Puja festival is celebrated majorly in eastern and northern parts of the country. And the surge in cases is also reported in these parts only,” he observed.
Dr Manoj Goel, director, pulmonology at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said lack of Covid appropriate behaviour and peak in pollution in the national capital have worsened the Covid-19 situation. “Cases in Delhi are rising with each passing day. This phenomenon will continue if people do not take necessary precautions. With lockdown being lifted, it is seen people are not observing those rules of social distancing, staying indoors and wearing masks.”
He added that taking precautions is the only way forward to deal with the viral disease since Delhi is densely populated. “Due to festival season coming, more and more people have started to socialise and are seen shopping. Delhi has a dense population and extra measures have to be taken to observe social distancing. People must realise that even when lockdown is not imposed, they have to set their own boundaries and not socialise, maintain social distance and always wear a mask,” Goel added.
Dr H.S. Chhabra, medical director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), said that coordinated communication to the public warning them of the risks posed by such lapses is required to bring about a change in their behaviour.
“While the relaxations under the unlocks have increased interaction among people during the festive season, lack of adherence to health measures such as use of masks and social distancing is contributing to the rapid increase.”
Chhabra stated that opening of schools and other places for the public must be delayed as much as possible in view of the rising cases. “Avoidable openings, such as that of schools and other places that attract crowds must be delayed as much as possible. Besides, organisations and public places that have begun operations should ensure that proper sanitisation of the high traffic areas and overall facility is being done without fail,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Delhi government ordered all schools in the city to remain shut till further orders after the surge in cases.
An expert committee, led by Dr Paul, had cautioned a few days ago that city hospitals should be prepared for a surge of 15,000 positive cases a day with the change in season and movement of patients from other states.
Meanwhile, Dr Dodairaj predicted that the next surge is impending in the metro cities of southern India. “The cases in metropolises like Bengaluru in the southern part have remained constant so far. However, the overcrowding and winter would lead to a surge in cases there as well,” he added.
BY ASHISH SRIVASTAVA