A man wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sanitizes a mall in New Delhi Photograph:( AFP )
The national capital recorded 1,215 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 1.57 lakh, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 4,257
The doubling rate of coronavirus infection in the national capital has gone up to over 100 days, the Delhi government said on Thursday as it revealed that 29.1 per cent people who took part in the latest sero-prevalence survey have antibodies against COVID-19.
The national capital recorded 1,215 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 1.57 lakh, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 4,257, a health bulletin issued by the Delhi government said.
Twenty-two fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours, the health bulletin said. This is the highest number of deaths since August 7, when the city recorded 23 fatalities, according to the data.
On the sero-survey, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said 15,000 representative samples were taken in the August 1-7 survey from 11 districts, and the next exercise will begin from September 1.
"In the previous survey, it was found that over 22 per cent people had developed antibodies. Now, the August survey shows it is 29.1 per cent," meaning they had got infected and recovered," Jain said.
The minister also said the prevalence of antibodies found in males was 28.3 per cent and 32.2 per cent in females in the latest survey.
The sero-prevalence found in North East district was 29 per cent, South district 27 per cent, South East 33 per cent and New Delhi 24 per cent, Jain said.
"The rise, rather than the exponential rise is not there. So, people are taking safety precautions it seems. But, we cannot afford to be complacent and lower our guard, even though the positivity rate at present is 7 per cent," Jain said.
The findings also mean that 71 per cent still have chances of getting infection, he said. "Also, experts say, herd immunity is said to have been built in the community if 40-50 per cent or more develop anti-bodies, so we have to be still very watchful," he added.
The exercise was undertaken for a comprehensive assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Delhi and to formulate strategies based on its findings.
The previous sero-prevalance survey done from June 27 to July 10 by the Delhi government in association with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), had used 21,387 samples and found that around 23 per cent of the people surveyed had an exposure to the novel coronavirus.
A statement by the Chief Minister's Office said for the month of August, the mortality rate in Delhi is 1.4 percent, while the country has a mortality rate of 1.92 percent. The recovery rate in Delhi is 90.2 per cent as compared to 72.5 per cent for the rest of the country, it added.
"The efforts made by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to deal with the Covid situation in Delhi are showing successful results. Delhi's position is much better than the rest of the country," the statement said.
The statement also said there is a large drop in test positive rate between June 18 and August 16. Positivity rate of RT-PCR and rapid tests both have seen a sharp decrease, it added.
"At present, the doubling rate of coronavirus in Delhi has gone up to 101.5 days, as compared to the rest of the country which stands at 28.8 days," the statement said.
On July 1, the doubling rate of coronavirus cases in Delhi was the same as with the rest of India at 20 days, it said.
"Since then, the doubling rate of Delhi has been steadily rising. It was 58 days on July 17, around 90 days on August 1, and has currently increased to 101.5 days. In comparison, for the rest of India, the doubling rate has remained between 20 and 27 days since July 1," it added.
On the positivity rate, the statement said it has dropped for both RT-PCR tests and Rapid Antigen Tests.
"On June 18, 9,088 RT-PCR tests were conducted of which 2,804 positives emerged - a positivity rate of 30.85 per cent. In comparison, on August 16, 4,106 RT-PCR tests were conducted of which 434 positives emerged - a positivity rate of 10.57 per cent.
"Similarly, on June 18, 3,316 rapid tests were conducted in Delhi of which 247 positives emerged - a positivity rate of 7.42 per cent. In comparison, August 16, 10,882 rapid tests were conducted in Delhi of which 353 positives emerged - a positivity rate of 3.24 per cent," the statement added.
On an average, the Delhi government roughly conducts 18,000-20,000 tests every day, but a majority of them are rapid tests, which experts say have very low sensitivity.
In a related development, the Delhi government has instructed its Excise department to issue necessary permits to hotels and restaurants to serve liquor.
The hotels and restaurants in the city were closed due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown since March. Even after restaurants were allowed to start functioning during the 'unlock' phase, they were not allowed to serve liquor.
In a note to the excise commissioner of the Delhi government, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia directed the department to issue necessary permission to serve liquor in the restaurants and clubs by licensees at tables and in hotel rooms.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Wednesday approved opening of hotels and restaurants in the city.