Opinions split on whether Delhi’s cases have peaked

Experts say current data not enough

April 29, 2021 01:05 am | Updated 01:33 am IST - New Delhi

Expert opinion is divided on whether or not Delhi has reached its COVID-19 peak, even as the city continues to be ravaged by the pandemic with people on the hunt for oxygen and beds for relatives and friends.

The positivity rate, which is the percentage of people testing positive out of the total tests done, has been almost at the same level for the past week. There was a sharp rise in positivity from 3.5% on April 1 to 36.2% on April 22. But since then, it has stayed below it.

Cases may dip

Jugal Kishore, Head of the Community Medicine Department at Safdarjung Hospital, said Delhi has reached the peak. “We have reached the peak and cases will now go down. The positivity will fluctuate for a few days and then it will also decrease,” he said.

On April 15, when positivity and cases were still rising, Dr. Kishore had told The Hindu that cases would peak in about 10 days. “Deaths will continue to be on the higher side for a week to 10 days and it will come down after that. This is because the deaths happening right now are the patients who got the infection mostly 10-14 ago, when there was a spike,” he said.

Giridhara R Babu, Professor at Indian Institute of Public Health in Bengaluru, said that there are chances that Delhi may have reached the peak of infection, but he cannot confirm at this point. “Generally, a week is a good time to observe a trend. But in Delhi, the number of tests is currently low. So, I would wait for another week to say whether Delhi has reached a plateau. But there are chances that Delhi could have reached a peak now itself,” Dr. Babu said.

But Jayaprakash Muliyil, an epidemiologist and former principal of Christian Medical College, Vellore, said that current data of positive cases and positivity is not enough to arrive at a conclusion on whether we have reached a peak.

“Classically, we count as cases only those people with clinical symptoms. But for COVID, we are counting all people who test positive as cases, even if they are subclinical [cases which are not severe enough to present observable symptoms],” Dr. Muliyil said.

Asymptomatic cases

For instance, most people with hepatitis A are asymptomatic and we don’t call them cases, but in the case of COVID-19, we are recording them as cases, he said.

“The data available is of all cases and from that, it is difficult to say whether Delhi has peaked. We can say it has peaked when the clinical cases [cases with symptoms] reduce, which will lead to a fall in hospital admission,” Dr. Muliyil said.

Dr. Kishore said that in Delhi about 70-75% of the population may have been infected by the virus till now. “Since these many people have been infected, it will break the chain of transmission and lead to a fall in cases. If the virus mutates, then we may see a spike again. Else the cases will gradually go down,” he added.

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