Delhi at peak of 2nd wave, cases will drop now: Kejriwal

Delhi has likely put behind it the peak of a “second wave” of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, and the situation is expected to improve from hereon, chief minster Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday, expressing optimism that the capital has tided over the brunt of the health crisis.

It’s the first time Kejriwal has spoken of a second wave of the pandemic, tracing it to the month between August 17 and September 17.

“From July 1 to August 17, the number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi was under control. From August 17, cases started increasing. We acted like a responsible government and scaled up tests from around 20,000 per day to 60,000 per day,” Kejriwal said on the sidelines of a visit to the Indian Agriculture Research Institute for the live demonstration of a crop stubble decomposition technology.

“Aggressive testing and isolation of patients is the best way to defeat Covid-19. With increased tests, the number of cases also increased,” said Kejriwal. “If we had done fewer tests, the numbers would have been less – maybe close to 1,500 cases per day like earlier. But we went ahead. After September 16, when the number of new cases in a day was the highest, cases started dropping again despite heightened testing. Experts are of the opinion that the second of Covid-19 in Delhi is likely to have hit the peak, and now cases are expected to go down.”

Between July 1 and August 17, Delhi recorded a daily average of 1,375 cases of Covid-19. However, from August 18 till Thursday, the Capital added more than double that number, logging 2,822 new cases of the disease on average each day.

According to medicinenet.com, a second wave refers to a phenomenon of infections that can develop during a pandemic in which a disease infects one group of people first and infections appear to decrease; then, infections increase in a different part of the population, resulting in a second wave of infections.

Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain said earlier this month that a second wave is a situation in which new Covid-19 cases start surfacing after hitting zero or extremely low counts.

Dr Puneet Misra, professor in the community medicines department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said, “The current spike in cases in Delhi can be attributed to multiple factors which include increased testing, further easing of lockdown restrictions and a large sense of complacency among people. However, it would be inaccurate to call it a second wave because Delhi did not witness a significantly steep drop in average cases for long enough in the past. Also, the current trends suggest that Delhi should take some more time in reaching its peak.”

Before the resurgence of cases, the seven-day average of daily cases in the Capital peaked at 3,446 on June 26 before falling to 983 on August 4. In the last seven days, Delhi has seen an average of above 3,700 new cases every day.

On September 16, Delhi recorded 4,473 new cases in a day – the highest so far.

On Thursday, Delhi recorded 3,834 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total number of patients so far to 260,623, even as 224,375 people have recovered from the disease and 5,123 have died. Over 59,000 tests were recorded on Thursday, against 19,841 on August 25, government records showed.

“At this juncture, the Delhi government should keep up with the scaled-up tests and increase the proportion of RT-PCR {reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction} tests for better ascertainment of the prevalence of the disease. Currently, the positivity rate is around 7%. For one to say that the situation is under control, it should be less than 5%,” said Lalit Kant, former head of the department of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR):

RT-PCR is considered to be the gold standard of Covid-19 testing and the most accurate method of diagnosing the disease.

Of the total tests recorded on Thursday, 9,814 were RT-PCR tests and 49,369 were rapid antigen tests, the government health bulletin showed.Rapid antigen tests are considered less accurate because they throw up false negative results.

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