- Massive 90% jump recorded in India’s daily covid count with 2,183 fresh cases in the past 24 hours.
- The daily positivity rate indicating the spread of the infection in the population has gone up to 0.83% today from 0.31% yesterday.
- Anurag Agrawal, former director of the Delhi-based Institute of Genetics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) suggests that such trends are usually first seen in major cities.
The national capital witnessed 513 new covid cases on Sunday which was up by four times from 131 in the initial weeks of the month. The count in Haryana has quadrupled since Sunday, yet the number is less than that in Delhi. The number of active cases has begun to climb for the first time since the third week of January. Though the magnitude of the rise is still considerably small, the escalating trend has been continuing for four days now.
Just when the pandemic seemed to be getting over in India and restrictions were being lifted in various parts of the country, the sudden rise in Delhi and Haryana cases has set the alarm bells ringing once again. However, the comforting prospect is the fact that the spike in cases has been limited to these two states, particularly Delhi and its neighbourhood and has not been reported from other states so far.
Poring Over the Probable Causes
Contrary to other major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, etc. where the total daily count has fallen to lower double digits, Delhi continues to report a concerningly higher number of cases, over 100 per day on an average. The numbers have surged in the last few days with 200 cases being detected in Delhi on Tuesday, for the first time in a month. Since then the cases have continued to increase with 461 cases on Saturday which was the highest in six weeks. Likewise, Haryana’s daily tally reached 202 which was the highest in five weeks. These two states were contributors to over half of India’s total cases on Saturday.
The cause for the shooting numbers is unclear as of now. However, the most plausible reason for the jump in cases in the present scenario can be attributed to the removal of mask mandates and all other restrictions that were imposed to stave off covid. Doing away with all the restrictions has not just happened in Delhi or Haryana but throughout the entire country, but, Anurag Agrawal, former director of Delhi-based Institute of Genetics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) noted that major urban centres are usually the first to witness changing trends. He additionally said the rise in cases in Delhi is consistent with people not wearing masks, curbs lifted on social interaction, reopening of schools and offices, restored travel arrangements, etc. It is unsurprising to observe the rise in cases amid growing interactions with zero restrictions. This is suggestive of the possibility that other large cities might too see a surge in cases shortly.
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Low Tally Elsewhere
No new variant has been detected in Delhi and Haryana as of now which is why the numbers do not seem to be too concerning. Additionally, the numbers are not anticipated to soar very high bearing in mind that there is no significant change in the 2 factors that primarily drive a surge – the emergence of a rapid;y transmitting variant, and the availability of a large pool in a vulnerable population. The rise seems to be temporary and hence, manageable.
Given that 1,150 new cases were detected on Saturday which was significantly higher than 949 and 975 on the two previous days, the rise is evident but it is too early to suggest a trend.
Fourth Wave Likey?
The surge in fresh cases in Delhi and Haryana triggers fears of a probable fourth wave of covid. Notwithstanding, it is risky to predict anything about a new wave of infections. Considering the past trends, a fresh wave is more likely to be driven by the emergence of a novel variant which is not the case right now. India’s major chunk of the population has already been infected with Omicron and has attained a fair degree of immunity against the variant. Reinfection by the same variant cannot be ruled out but is not frequent either.
No clarity has been received on the duration for which immunity gained from prior infections remains effective. Based on the rationale of the none month gap in administering a booster, it can be said that the immunity lasts for at least 6-9 months. This suggests people who were inflicted with the Omicron variant would continue to possess effective immunity for a few additional months. Thus, fears of the commencement of a fourth wave do not have much ground as of now, unless a novel threatening variant is detected.