COVID-19 surge in Delhi: 8-10 deaths every day, doctors recommend masks, booster dose

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Delhi can be attributed to the dominance of omicron sub-variant BA 2.75

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Thursday 18 August 2022

COVID-19 seems to be taking another worrisome turn for national Capital Delhi, with daily new cases around 2,000 cases for a major part of this month. Hospitals have recorded 8-10 deaths every day.

This is the highest spike in the last six months, according to data shared by the Delhi health department. 

Delhi government’s COVID portal recorded 917 fresh cases August 16, which took the active patients count to 6,867. 

It is early to determine if the surge can lead to a wave, an official said.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, told Down To Earth:

The COVID-19 cases have increased consistently in the capital city over the past few days. The positivity rate had increased to about 20 per cent in the past couple of days but now has reduced to about 15 per cent.

 Patients with comorbidities are at a higher risk of COVID-19 mortality, he noted.

“The hospital has seen patients mostly with cancer, tuberculosis, heart disease or other cases where immunity is compromised. People with such vulnerabilities should opt for the booster dose,” he added.

The vaccine will effectively help to improve immunity and resistance against the virus, he said when asked whether the vaccine would be effective against the disease.

Masks should be used to suppress transmission, the doctor cautioned. 

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Delhi can be attributed to the dominance of omicron sub-variant BA 2.75, a recent study by Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital noted.

From the 90 samples analysed from August, more than 50 per cent of the patients were infected with the variant. Kumar attributed the surge in cases to its faster transmission rate compared to the previous variants.

The patients affected by the variant show symptoms of sore throat, fever, body ache, running nose and headache. Some patients also reported low oxygen and viral pneumonia.

“Understanding the data over time will help to understand what level of caution and mandates need to be issued. Omicron has definitely turned out to be less lethal variant compared to its predecessors, but its crucial to protect the vulnerable population via booster dose,” said Anant Bhan, a bioethics researcher.

He expressed the need to monitor data to get a better sense of the variant. The booster dose will help to improve immunity and may prevent the need for hospitalisation, Bhan added.

“There is also a need to monitor if the patients who were administered with booster dose have also contracted the disease. However, it would be too soon to tell if the recent trend can lead to a new COVID-19 wave,” he added.

Delhi has also reported a sudden increase in swine flu (H1N1) cases. However, Bhan says it is likely due to the seasonal weather changes.

“It is true that many hospitals have reported increase in cases of swine flu, it can be an independent seasonal situation. It may be too soon to co-link it with the COVID-19 cases,” he said.

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