Outstation patients behind uptick in COVID cases in Delhi: Experts  

As per health experts complacent behaviour of people after re-opening of economy, returning migrant labourers and increase in outstation patients in Delhi are reasons behind surge in COVID cases

Photo Courtesy: IANS
Photo Courtesy: IANS
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IANS

The national capital has been witnessing a sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases for the last one week, with health experts conjecturing that it could be due to the complacent behaviour of the people after re-opening of the economy, returning migrant labourers and increase in outstation patients seeking treatment in city hospitals.

On Wednesday, Delhi had witnessed highest single-day spike in August with 1,693 fresh cases, forcing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to hold a press conference to acknowledge the spike and urge people to follow the safety protocols.

On June 23, the national capital had registered the highest single-day spike of 3,947, pursuant to which the cases plummeted and remained low in the month of July.

Even though health experts have denied the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 in Delhi, many asserted that a resurgence of cases in the near future cannot be ruled out.

The reason for the spike is being attributed to outstation coronavirus patients who are coming to the city hospitals for treatment.

"These are mostly patients from the adjoining states, but the data is not clear yet," said Suresh Kumar, Medical Director at the LNJP Hospital.

Kejriwal had also asserted that 21.6 per cent or 800 of the total number of beds in Delhi are occupied by patients from other states.

"The spike can be attributed to the opening up of economic activities in the unorganised sectors, where people-to-people contact is more. The second reason could be that people have become complacent and are not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing protocols," said infectious disease expert Mahesh Kumar Lakhe.

As per the data provided by the Delhi Police, as many as 1,88,578 people have been fined for not wearing masks till August 26.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Chief Balram Bhargava had recently said that irresponsible and less cautious people, who do not wear masks, are driving the pandemic.

Delhi-based health expert Shuchin Bajaj said, "People are also getting tired of the lockdown and social distancing measures, so they are becoming more careless. But I think the more important factor is that the migrant population has started to come back now with the increase in economic activity."

Bajaj said that migrants are bringing the virus from their respective states where isolation and testing protocols are not up to the mark. "I think this is one of the most important factors for the second spike in cases in Delhi," he said.

Neeraj Nischal, Assistant Professor at the Department of Medicine, AIIMS, said that it appears that people have become complacent and have started taking things easy.

"They have to remember that this virus is invisible and attacks at even the slightest of mistakes people make," Nischal said.

Meanwhile, the national capital has become the first state to cross the 90 per cent recovery rate this month. On Wednesday, however, a sudden-spike brought it down to 89.82 per cent.

The positivity rate, which is the percentage of tests which return positive, has also started to rise with 7.4 per cent of tests returning positive. This metric, coupled with an increase in fresh cases, indicates that coronavirus is spreading fast.

As far as the death rate is concerned, it is still relatively low. In June, the city had recorded more than 100 deaths, but it has now come down. The lowest which has been recorded till now was eight deaths on August 11 and 16.

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