Delhi reported 3,797 new Covid cases and 99 coronavirus-linked deaths in the past 24 hours, government data showed late Monday night. This is the second consecutive day that the number of daily new cases in the national capital is below 4,000 – a welcome statistic given the city logged over 7,000 cases per day between November 10 and 14 and over 5,000 per day from November 3. The number of deaths, though, remains around the 100-mark; 95 were reported on Sunday.
However, fewer than 30,000 coronavirus tests were conducted in the preceding 24 hours (of which the majority – 18,011 – were the less reliable Rapid Antigen variety) raising yet more concerns that the lack of testing is hiding the true spread of the virus in the national capital.
The number of daily tests – critical to quickly identify and isolate Covid patients, and track the diffusion of the virus – has gone down steadily from 64,121 on November 11 to 56,553 on November 13. The number of tests conducted dipped to an alarming low of 21,098 yesterday.
The drop in testing has led to speculation that the slowdown in daily cases over the past 48 hours may not be as pleasantly steep as the numbers suggest.
One such indicator is the positivity rate (or the percentage of tests that return a positive result), which is still worryingly high – it was 12.73 per cent for the past 24 hours and 15.33 per cent in the period before that. By comparison the national average this morning was only 5.3 per cent.
The spike in cases in Delhi began around 12 days ago. On November 3 the city reported 6,725 cases in 24 hours; a 2,700-case increase from the day before. Three days later that figure crossed the 7,000-mark and eight days later it crossed the 8,000-mark for the first time in this pandemic.
Alarmed by the steep rise in cases Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr Kejriwal said: “There is also a plan to increase the number of tests conducted from the current 60,000 a day to one lakh.”
After the meeting there was also speculation of another lockdown in Delhi, a possibility that Health Minister Satyendar Jain emphatically ruled out this morning. He also claimed that “the peak of Delhi’s third wave is gone”.
According to an expert report released by the central government, Delhi is likely to see an average of 15,000 cases a day in the winter – double the current caseload.
The overall number of cases in the national capital is now more than 4.89 lakh. Of this over 7,600 are deaths linked to the virus. The active caseload has crossed 40,000 – this was below 10,000 in August.