Delhi’s Covid Cases Spike As Temperatures Drop And Pollution Rises

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Delhi’s Covid Cases Spike As Temperatures Drop And Pollution Rises

India’s capital, Delhi, is battling a winter surge in Covid-19 cases as temperatures plummet and air pollution rises to dangerous levels.

The city confirmed more than 8,500 cases on Wednesday alone, its highest daily record yet.

It also added 85 deaths in a day, putting the total beyond 7,000.

The sharp spike in cases after a months-long lull has also put pressure on hospitals – more than half the available beds are already occupied.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to the federal government asking for more beds at government hospitals as public pressure mounts.

At 8.6m and counting, India currently has the world’s second-highest caseload. But it had been on the decline from the middle of September: daily case counts dropped from nearly 100,000 to as low as 37,000 in the weeks that followed, even as testing remained consistent.

The daily national tally continues to hover between 40,000-50,000 – India recorded some 48,200 cases on Wednesday.

But Delhi has seen an alarming spike in recent weeks, recording more new cases than any other state. The capital has confirmed just over 450,000 cases so far, some 42,000 of which are active.

It comes as large swathes of northern India confront a winter season and dangerously high levels of air pollution – two factors that could significantly worsen efforts to control the virus, according to experts.

The rising numbers also coincide with a busy festival season in India, with Hindus celebrating Diwali this weekend. Delhi has banned the sale and use of fireworks and officials have reinforced the need for social distancing, but visuals of crowds thronging markets in the city have caused alarm. Authorities found a high positivity rate among shopkeepers in some of the oldest markets, which are at risk of becoming hotspots.

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“Two elderly patients of mine had to wait for more than 20 hours to get a bed,” said Dr Joyeeta Basu, a physician in Delhi.

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Nearly 8,600 beds out of the 16,573 Covid beds in Delhi’s public and private hospitals were full as of Wednesday evening, according to the government’s Corona app. But more worryingly, unoccupied beds in intensive care units (ICU) are more scarce – only 176 beds with ventilators and 338 beds without ventilators are available. On Thursday, the Delhi High Court said some 33 private hospitals could reserve 80% of ICU beds for Covid patients due to spiralling cases and strained hospital resources.

Delhi’s Covid Cases Spike As Temperatures Drop And Pollution Rises

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