New Delhi: Hospitals, polyclinics, and dispensaries in Delhi have been instructed by health department authorities to scale up testing amid an upward trend in COVID-19 cases here in the past several days, sources said on Saturday. More than 3,800 coronavirus cases have been recorded in the city during the March 30-April 7 period.
Delhi logged 733 COVID cases, the highest in over seven months, on Friday, with a positivity rate of 19.93 per cent, according to data shared by the city government’s health department.
The sources said the department has instructed hospitals, polyclinics and dispensaries in the city to increase COVID testing.
“Authorities at these facilities have been told that anyone who visits such facilities and exhibits ILI (influenza-like illness) symptoms, such as fever, cough, body ache is to be tested as cases have risen and the daily count is growing steadily,” a source said.
At present, the city’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 26,536, according to Friday’s health bulletin.
With the new cases on Friday, Delhi’s infection tally has risen to 20,13,403. The data showed that 3,678 COVID tests were conducted on Thursday.
Delhi has witnessed a spurt in the number of fresh COVID infections over the last several days amid a sharp rise in H3N2 influenza cases in the country.
The Delhi government is keeping an eye on the spurt in COVID cases in the national capital and is “prepared to face any eventuality”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said last week.
Addressing reporters after chairing a review meeting on the COVID situation, Kejriwal had said there was no need to worry for now and that the city government was taking all required steps.
Amid a gradual increase in the number of COVID cases in Delhi, medical experts say the new XBB.1.16 variant of the virus could be driving the surge.
However, they maintained that there is no need to panic and people should follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and get booster shots of the vaccines.
Another source claimed that COVID vaccine doses at city government facilities are “not in stock” at present.
“Request had been sent to the Centre for allotment of more COVID vaccine doses. The old stock has an expiry period, so all doses were used before that date. Besides, people are not showing keenness to get the booster dose for multiple reasons, so there aren’t many takers anyway,” he said.
Precaution doses are available at private hospitals and those who haven’t got their booster dose administered, should get it done, a senior doctor in the health department said.
“Many people who have got all three shots taken are also getting infected with COVID. Reports claiming side effects of vaccines, including on the heart, is also a factor in keeping people away. And, a section of people also feel that now they have got immunity from previous infection or first two doses, so they are not going for the booster dose. So, it’s an interplay of multiple factors due to which less number of people have so far got precautions doses in Delhi, which is about 25 per cent of the eligible population in this category,” he said.
Doctors said as testing is to be ramped up, more kits and equipment will be used, and the health department is making preparations for it.
The national capital had recorded 620 cases on August 26.
On Thursday, 606 cases were logged with a positivity rate of 16.98 per cent. One fatality was also reported.
On Wednesday, the city logged a positivity rate of 26.54 per cent, the highest in nearly 15 months, with 509 people testing positive in a single day. In January last year, the positivity rate had touched the 30-per cent mark.
The number of fresh cases had dropped to zero on January 16, the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.
It has risen again in the past several days.
In the March 30-April 7 period, 3,802 cases and six fatalities have been recorded, including two deaths on April 3.
Nearly 120 of the 7,989 beds in dedicated Covid hospitals in the city are occupied while 1,491 patients are in home isolation, the health department said on Friday.
The number of active cases currently stands at 2,331, a rise of over 150 per cent since March 30 when the corresponding figure was 932.