Delhi Past 3rd Coronavirus Peak, No Chance of Lockdown, Says Health Minister Satyendra Jain
People throng a market to shop ahead of Diwali in New Delhi, on November 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Asked to explain the rationale behind the claim, Delhi health minister Satyandra Jain pointed to the positivity rate in the capital during the previous peaks which he said was the main indicator instead of the absolute case numbers.
- Last Updated: November 16, 2020, 13:20 IST
- FOLLOW US ON:
“There is no need to be worried about absolute numbers. I can definitely say that the peak of the third wave in Delhi is over. The first wave came in June, the second wave came in September and the third wave in November. Slowly, numbers will start coming down,” Jain told reporters at a briefing.
Asked to explain the rationale behind the claim, Jain pointed to the positivity rate in the capital during the previous peaks which he said was the main indicator instead of the absolute case numbers. “In June, the weekly average positivity rate was 37%. In the second peak, we had positivity rates of 12%, 13%, 14%... in the third wave, the positivity rate touched a maximum of 15% and has started declining,” the AAP minister said.
Jain attributed the sharp spike in Delhi’s caseload to increase in the number of tests. “If the positivity rate goes up with the increasing number of tests, then it is a cause for worry. If the positivity rate is less, then we should be cautious that's all,” he said.
Quoting from the serological surveys, the minister said roughly 50 lakh people in Delhi had already been diagnosed as Covid-positive two-and-a-half months ago.
“Delhi had conducted a sero survey in which 25% people were found to be positive. After that, the next two surveys also showed 25% people as positive. The scientists said cases which are three to four months old have falling levels of anti-bodies and, therefore, cannot be detected. This means that two-and-a-half months ago, 25% people in Delhi or 50 lakh people were already positive. The rising numbers we see are because of more tests being done,” Jain said, essentially de-linking the absolute number of cases from judging whether a peak has been reached.
The minister said Delhi is conducting 3,000 tests per million, adding that no other state has matched these numbers.
On the city’s rising mortality rate, Jain said, “When winters begin, mortality rate among old aged people does increase. If you check the data, overall deaths are not increasing. You take the monthly death figures, and compare the same to that in the previous years month-to-month, and they are not increasing. If a person is sick and also has Covid, the death is attributed to Covid,” he said.
Jain also denied rumours of another lockdown in Delhi. “I don't think (there will be another lockdown). After the (previous) lockdown, there was a learning exercise. The lesson that we have learnt from the lockdown after so many months is that you can derive the benefit of a lockdown by wearing a mask. When the lockdown was imposed, there were a few hundred cases in the country. Today there are thousands. I don’t think this can be contained with lockdowns,” Jain said.
He also clarified that there has been no review of protocols already in place in market areas and the focus will rather be on stricter enforcement and Covid-appropriate behavior. “The Delhi government has already passed instructions that those who do not wear masks or observe social distancing will face action. Challans worth Rs 45 crore have already been issued.”
On Sunday, Delhi reported 3,235 positive cases, 7606 recoveries and 95 deaths. As many as 21,098 tests were conducted with a positivity rate of 15.33%. The capital's cumulative Covid-positive cases stood at 4,85,405, recoveries at 4,37,801, and fatalities at 7,614. The cumulative positivity rate was 8.91%.