India on Sunday became the first country in the world to report more than 80,000 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in a single day, as the outbreak continued to grow and set new records.
A total of 80,097 new infections were reported across India on Sunday, taking the nationwide tally to 3,616,747, according to HT’s dashboard. To contextualise the size of the daily tally, China, where the virus originated in December 2019, has a total 85,031 confirmed infections to date.
After Sunday’s spike, the seven-day average of daily cases in the country stands at 73,318, also a new global record, and taking it higher than the seven-day daily case peak recorded in the United States when the number touched 69,330 for the week ending July 25.
In Delhi, after a gap of over 50 days, new cases of Covid-19 breached the 2,000 mark on Sunday as the resurgence of daily infections in the city continued. The Covid-19 positivity rate in Delhi also continued to rise, with 8.7% of all tests conducted in the last week coming back positive, suggesting that more and more Delhi residents are now carrying the virus. In terms of the single-day, 9.9% of samples tested on Sunday came back positive — the highest since July 13, or in 48 days.
On Sunday, the city recorded 2,024 new cases, the highest single-day increase in cases since July 10, when the city reported 2,089 new infections. After Sunday’s new cases, Delhi’s total case count stands at 173,390.
Twenty-two new deaths were reported on Sunday, taking the total number of deaths in the city to 4,426. Delhi has seen an average of 1,703 new cases every day in the last seven days — the highest this number has touched since July 17.
The seven-day average of daily cases in the Capital, which peaked at 3,446 on June 26 before falling to 983 on August 4, has now gone up for the 14th consecutive day.
Last week, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal held an emergency meeting as he acknowledged that cases were increasing again after dropping for a month-and-a-half. He announced the city government would “double the number of daily tests” from current levels to around 40,000 per day in an effort to catch and isolate more patients.
“An increasing positivity rate means that the transmission of the infection is going up in the city. And, this is likely to increase further as we open up the economy, the metro. We need to keep following the test-trace-treat strategy to keep things under control. We also need to identify cases who need intensive care early to prevent deaths,” said Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Some experts said Delhi may be facing a fresh challenge to control an outbreak it had contained to a considerable extent.
“Yes, there has been an increase in the number of cases being reported daily, but it is not alarming as we are not reporting extremely high number of hospitalisations or deaths, like it happened in June. Plus, the government is well prepared and the infrastructure is in place. That said, people should continue following the general precautions like wearing masks and washing hands frequently,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
“I do not think there will be a second surge like the one in June. Around 30% people in Delhi already have antibodies against the infection,” he said, pointing to the second sero surveillance that said almost 30% of the people in Delhi have antibodies against the infection.
The seven-day average positivity rate, meanwhile, has been rising consistently with 8.7% of all tests conducted in the last week coming back positive, the highest in 47 days, in what experts said was an alarming trend.
Positivity rate — the fraction of tests that return positive — had dropped from a peak of 31.4% in mid-June to 5.7% at the end of July, but is now consistently rising again.
The case fatality rate (CFR) – the fraction of people who die among the confirmed cases – in Delhi stands at 2.6%, much higher than the national average of 1.82%.
According to Sunday’s bulletin by the Delhi government, 20,437 new samples were tested in the last 24 hours, of which 6,881 were RT-PCR or molecular tests, while 13,555 were rapid antigen tests.
Across the country, with 959 new deaths lodged on Sunday, the total number of people who have died from the disease now stands at 64,610, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard.