In a high-level Covid review meeting with officials from the Union’s Health Ministry today, Delhi blamed air pollution in addition to a host of other reasons for a 46% increase in coronavirus cases over the past month.
The spike in cases was due to social gatherings during the festivities, deteriorating air quality, increased incidence of respiratory disorders, clusters of infections at work and fatigue among frontline workers, ”Delhi state health officials said, voicing the concerns of experts ahead of the winter months.
Concerned about the recent spike in cases in Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan today discussed containment measures with state officials amid fears a third wave of coronavirus during the winter months.
The Union Ministry of Health team advised states to adopt the ‘test, track and treat’ strategy and raise public awareness of ‘appropriate Covid behavior’ wearing masks and social distancing during the season festivals.
Increase the use of more reliable RT-PCR tests – the gold standard in detecting the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 – they were advised. The recommendation was a reiteration of an earlier directive issued by the country’s leading medical body on the use of cheaper but less reliable rapid antigen tests during the September flare-up.
States have also been advised to be “aggressive” in contact tracing, isolation and “strict perimeter control”.
The review came as Delhi, West Bengal and Kerala resisted the national downward trend in cases with a 46%, 23% and 11% increase in cases over the past month, respectively.
Delhi has recorded a record 5,673 Covid cases in the past 24 hours. It has 29,378 active cases with a positivity rate of 7.9%, nearly double the national average of around 4%.
West Bengal has seen a record number of infections in the past month and has 37,111 cases with an 8.3% positivity rate – a 1% increase in the past four weeks.
Kerala – which has recorded the highest number of cases in the country in the past 24 hours – also has the highest number of active cases (of the three states) at 93,369. An almost equal number of new cases have been recorded. in the last 14 days. While his positivity rate is three times the national average – 16.5% – his death rate is only 0.34%, or a third of the national average.
The Ministry of Health did not share responses from West Bengal and Kerala on why cases were increasing there.
Coronavirus cases in India have also increased by 14% to cross the 80 lakh mark in the past 24 hours.