Don't panic, but follow COVID norms, be vigilant: Doctors on rise in Delhi's positivity rate

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With the Covid positivity rate in Delhi jumping from 0.5 per cent to 2.70 percent in a span of the last one week, doctors on Tuesday said it was “not a panic situation” as the daily cases count was still lower, but cautioned there was a need to be “vigilant” and that people should follow all safety norms and not let a sense of complacency set in.

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The sudden rise in the positivity rate, the Monday’s figure being the highest in the last two months, has triggered a concern about a possible new wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the city. The test positivity rate had stood at 2.87 per cent on February 5.

Doctors at leading government and private hospitals here concurred that though it was “not a panic situation” but a sense of complacency setting in largely among the masses was a “matter of concern”. “There has been an uptick in daily cases, and the positivity rate has been increasing in the last few days too, and it jumped to 2.70 per cent, as reported on Monday. But, I would say there is no need to panic, as the daily cases count is still in the range of 130-150. However, there is a need to be vigilant and follow all Covid-appropriate behaviours,” said Dr Richa Sareen, consultant of pulmonology at Fortis hospital.

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While she has been critical of the city government’s recent move to remove the mask mandate, the doctor said, it was not a “static decision” and if the situation warrants, the rules can again be changed.

Doctors PTI spoke to also agreed that vaccination and herd immunity has “certainly provided a level of protection too” to people.

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Nation-wide vaccination exercise had begun in January 2021 and currently, the exercise to deliver a precaution dose is underway.

Delhi on Monday had reported 137 fresh COVID-19 cases with the positivity rate rising to 2.70 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said his government is keeping a close watch on the Covid situation in the capital and there is no major reason to panic at present. He said all necessary steps will be taken if the need arises.

City Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday had said the city government is keeping a watchful eye on the COVID-19 situation and there was no reason to worry until a new variant of concern is detected.

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo hospital here cautioned that while daily cases have been rising, a “sense of complacency has set in among the masses” in general, especially after the mask mandate was removed.

“I do not foresee any new wave as long as we remain cautious, follow all Covid-appropriate behaviours and wear masks while being outside, especially in crowded places. But, I am seeing visuals on internet and reports that people are gathering in large numbers, and not many wearing mask, which would mean that cases could further rise,” he said.

A massive crowd was seen at a three-day flea market festival at the JLN Stadium here that ended on Sunday. Very few people were seen wearing mask at the venue. The visuals from the festival have been widely shared on social media.

Doctors also said that the city government should increase the number of Covid tests, and while the positivity rate has been on the rise, the number of coronavirus patients getting admitted to hospital is still less.

However, the situation needs to be observed for the next few days, before making any assessment, they said.

The national capital’s COVID-19 tally increased to 18,66,380 on Monday while the death toll stood at 26,157.

The capital had on Sunday reported 141 cases and one death, while the positivity rate stood at 1.29 per cent.

Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who have tested positive among those overall tested.

A senior doctor at Delhi government-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH), one of the major Covid facilities here, also said, a sense of complacency has set in largely among the masses, and that was a “matter of concern”.

“People are not getting themselves tested and treating mild fever and cold at home only. There is no need to panic at the moment, but we should be vigilant,” she said.

Asked how real was the threat of a new variant, the doctor said, “there is still an uncertainty as to whether it will be milder than previous Omicron or more lethal than Delta variant, though if latter was the case, it would have shown the trend by now”. The WHO has issued a warning against XE, a new variant of Omicron first detected in the UK, and suggested that it could be more transmissible than any COVID-19 strain so far.

The XE variant is a combination or recombinant of both sub-variants — BA.1 and BA.2 — of Omicron.

The genomic analysis of the COVID-19 XE variant sample from Gujarat is still underway and results are expected soon, Union health ministry sources had said on Saturday.

Gujarat reported its first XE variant case after a man from Mumbai tested positive for COVID-19 during his visit to Vadodara, a state official had said.

Before this, Mumbai civic body officials had said that a woman who had arrived from South Africa in February-end and tested positive in March has been infected by the XE variant, but the health ministry had not agreed.

The ministry had said that present evidence does not yet indicate that it is a case of the XE variant.

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