November has turned out to be the most precarious month for the national capital in managing the Covid-19 pandemic. The month recorded an unprecedented number of cases and fatalities since the pandemic struck.
In November alone, the capital city reported a 32.2% rise in the Covid-19 tally, adding 1,83,665 infections, while the fatalities rose by 29 per cent with the addition of 2,663 deaths. The month ended with an infection tally of 5,70,374 cases while the death toll rose to 9,174.
The third surge of the viral infection seems to be settling down with the infection rate oscillating between 7 and 9 per cent since last one week. This rate has been over 11 per cent, as it even crossed 15 per cent within some days. In September, when the case tally wasn’t that alarming, the positivity rate stood at 6 per cent.
The third surge is believed to have started around October 28 when the sudden spike in cases started emerging daily. Delhi has witnessed a sudden spike in coronavirus cases since October 28 when the single-day tally breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11.
On this day, Delhi had recorded 8,593 cases, its highest-single-day spike to date. The lowest cases the national capital has recorded on November 30 was 3,726.
However, multiple reasons played roles in leading the third surge. The spike in cases had coincided with deepening winters, rising pollution, and busy festival season where festivities of Karwa Chauth, Diwali, and Chath Puja had lined up.
Health experts had cautioned that cold air is heavier and less mobile, which means viral clouds or viral particles will hover closer to the ground, making it easier to get into one’s lungs.
Prabhakaran Dorairaj, Professor, Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India, said that the combination of pollution, overcrowding, and winters proved as triple whammy for the already worse Covid situation in Delhi.
“The viral infections thrive in winters. They remain suspended for a longer time in the air in cold weather conditions. The pollution aids the longevity of the suspension of the virus. On top of it, the lack of social distancing during the festivals instigated the spread further,” he explained.
The Indian Medical Association had estimated that 13 per cent of the rise in Covid-19 cases occurred due to severely bad air quality of Delhi while adding that it has increased severity of the Covid-19 infection among the patients.
H.S. Chabbra, Medical Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Center (ISIC) said that a greater number of inter and intra-district movements and increased interaction among people in addition to lack of adherence to health measures such as the use of masks and social distancing have majorly contributed to the surge.
However, the third surge has not just remained enormous in number, but in intensity as well.
Sandeep Nayar, Sr. Director and Head, Centre for Chest and Respiratory Disease, BLK Super Speciality Hospital said that amid the latest surge, the patients got admitted with greater complications, and fatality among them prevailed.
“The severity among the Covid-19 patients has definitely increased. We have seen most of the cases being admitted at severe stages while the mortality among them has also increased now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the higher fatality could be linked to a number of reasons. Dr. Nayar stated that the virus has mutated and created further complications in the patients. Besides, another reason observed by the medical experts behind the high mortality is the laxity to undergo the test despite the arrival of symptoms.
“In this month alone, we have treated close to 30 patients of Covid-19 induced moderate to major complications with no test being done. Covid-19 antibody tests in all these patients were found to be positive. These patients came with the involvement of lungs, nervous system, heart, and blood vessels.
Many patients who had lung involvement required oxygen term supplementation and a few special medications,” said Atul Kakar, vice-chairperson, department of internal medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
As per the doctors, such patients could have averted severe stage of the illness if they had opted for early testing and the treatment of the disease.