Fresh Covid-19 cases drop below 30K, but worries remain

Fresh Covid-19 cases drop below 30,000, but worries remain on account of Bihar polls and festivals

With an average of more than 7,000 daily cases till two days ago, Delhi poses a fresh challenge on countering the pandemic

A health worker gives instructions to a resident after taking his swab sample to test for Covid-19 outside Vastrapur Lake in Ahmedabad. Credit: AFP.

As the number of new Covid-19 cases dropped below 30,000 for the first time after four months, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday alerted about the possible adverse consequences of Durga Puja, Diwali and Bihar elections on the pandemic, besides waving a red flag on the Delhi scenario.

“Though the number of new cases dropped below 30,000 after a long period, we are of the opinion that the impacts of Durga Puja, Diwali and Bihar election are to be seen in the coming days. We need to keep a close watch on the number of new cases this week and next week,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

Continuing its nine-week long fall, the number of fresh cases recorded in the last 24 hours was 29,163 taking, India’s cumulative tally to 88.74 lakh.

But with an average of more than 7,000 daily cases till two days ago, the national capital poses a fresh challenge on countering the pandemic.

Follow DH's coverage on the coronavirus here

The new steps being taken by the Centre to counter the surge includes ramping up the tests and making provisions for more ICU and oxygen beds in Delhi hospitals to tackle the rising caseload.

Currently around 57,000 tests are being conducted in Delhi out of which 20,000 odds are RT-PCR tests even though the national capital has a capacity of 27,000 such tests daily. “The plan is to increase the level of testing to 1-1.2 lakhs per day using the government facilities, research establishment and private sector,” said Vinod Paul, NITI Aayog member and a former professor at AIIMS.

In addition, there would be 10 mobile testing vans. “As a Covid-19 appropriate behavior, people are now encouraged to go for testing if they are having any symptoms. Since testing-on-demand is available, don’t be hesitant to get tested,” said Bhushan.

With Delhi facing a shortage of ICU beds, arrangements have been made to create another 3,200-plus ICU beds in government’s Covid-19 facilities. The DRDO unit will have 537 new ICU beds, whereas 2,680 such beds will be set up in Delhi government hospitals. In addition, there would be 45 new ICU beds at central government run hospitals.

Asked about the progress in vaccine development, Paul said that the trials of all the three Indian vaccines were on course and clinical trials for Russian origin Sputnik-V vaccine would start next week. An early trial has commenced for a fifth vaccine candidate from Biological Evans.

“But vaccines will only complement other tools. Vaccine alone will not end the pandemic,” he noted.