‘Delhi could see 50K daily COVID-19 cases’

A beneficiary in the 15 -17 age group receiving a COVID-19 vaccine dose at Mahindra Park in Delhi on Tuesday.

A beneficiary in the 15 -17 age group receiving a COVID-19 vaccine dose at Mahindra Park in Delhi on Tuesday.

The current wave of COVID-19 could peak around January 20 in Delhi with 50,000 daily new cases if no restrictions were imposed, an IIT Kanpur team has informed the government, an official source said.

“The prediction is based on the ‘Sutra’ model it has created, which takes into account different factors,” the source told The Hindu .

Last year, the Delhi government had asked IIT Kanpur to form a team, comprising epidemiologists and other experts, to come up with accurate predictions on when the third wave could hit the city and how high the cases could go.

South Africa pattern

Nandini Sharma, director-professor of the Community Medicine Department at Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, said it was possible that the city could see a peak of infection around January 20.

“We are in a way mirroring South Africa in the rise of Omicron cases. So, it is probable that we could see a peak by January 20 as cases are already going down in that country,” Dr. Sharma said.

She said the incubation period of the Omicron variant was only two-three days (lesser than Delta) and it takes a week to recover from the disease which is highly infectious. “But it is difficult to say how many people will actually get the virus as it is mostly asymptomatic and infections are mild,” she added.

Jugal Kishore, head of the Community Medicine Department at Safdarjung Hospital, said the current wave could peak in Delhi slightly before January 20 and added that in South Africa, cases peaked in about 15 days.

But he said 50,000 daily cases seem to be very high.

“Even before the Omicron variant hit the country, about 90% people in Delhi had antibodies against the virus as per serosurveys. Since reinfections are very less, there is only a lesser number of people left to be infected compared to the second wave. Because of this, daily cases could go up to a maximum of 25,000 in Delhi, but not beyond that and the majority will not require hospital admissions,” he said.

Crackdown on gatherings

Dr. Sharma said the government should prevent large gatherings which could turn into super spreader events as even if 2% of cases become serious, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed.

She said that past experience shows even “if we impose restrictions, we may not be able to control the spread of the disease”.

Dr. Kishore said the government should be focusing on ramping up the healthcare infrastructure and home isolation and not imposing lockdowns.

“There are two reasons why the government should not impose a lockdown. First, it affects a lot of poor people, who will lose their livelihood that may further increase stress and decrease immunity. Second, it will delay the peak and increase the chances of mutation of the virus, which is currently causing only mild infections,” he said.

“Don’t worry about Omicron. It is a mild infection and once you get the virus you will also get immunity against it. In a way it acts like a natural vaccine,” Dr. Kishore added.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 1:59:25 am |