How aggressive testing helped Delhi come to grips with Covid

Hyatt Regency among 4 premier Delhi hotels to be used for Covid treatment.

After Delhi seemed to be overwhelmed by the Covid-19 catastrophe, a respite may be in sight with the number of cases beginning to decline consistently, and it appears that the curve may plateau soon. An AIIMS doctor suggests one of the crucial factors, which helped Delhi tide over the health crisis, is aggressive testing, but emphasised that people should not lower their guard against the viral infection.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Neeraj Nischal, Associate Professor in Department of Medicine at AIIMS, contended that “it is clear that policy of test, trace, isolate and treat cases is bound to decrease the number of cases. This is exactly what is happening in Delhi, as cases have begun to decline”.

“I would like to add the other crucial reason for decline in cases is due to participation of the people. Most people diligently followed social distancing norms, which eventually helped,” he added.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a recent statement, said: “We have increased testing in Delhi. Initially, on testing 100 people, around 31 were found to be corona positive, and today, only 13 out of 100 people are found to be corona positive. These things show that the situation is under control, and is not as terrible as it was one month back.”

Queried on the possibility of herd immunity against the backdrop of the recently conducted sero-surveillance in Delhi, Nischal insisted though cases have begun to decline, people should avoid making visits to malls or forming large crowds.

“People should not lower their guard (after it appears, we have passed the peak of the viral infection). To develop herd immunity, a large section of the population has to be infected, which has not happened in Delhi yet,” he said.

In Delhi, out of the 11 districts, eight have sero-prevalence of more than 20 per cent. In the central, northeast, north and Shahdara districts, the sero-prevalence is 27 per cent.

Delhi’s southwest area has 12.95 per cent sero-prevalence, the least in the city, followed by south and west Delhi at 18.61 per cent and 19.13 per cent, respectively.

In the period between June 27 July 5, it was found that 24 per cent people developed antibodies from Covid-19 virus, which means that 24 per cent people have got infected by the virus and then recovered.

Queried on this sero-surveillance, Nischal said: “Not sure for how long these antibodies will last. It is a matter of debate how protective these antibodies are, therefore, it is essential that people continue to take precautions.”

He insisted if people do not follow social distancing, then the city could face another surge in cases.

“The future of vaccines is bright. But to see that future, we have to survive the present. Social vaccine is the need of the hour. Maintaining social distance, wearing face mask, maintaining cough etiquette and hand hygiene will help in saving people not only from Covid-19, but also from other infections.”