Delhi reported less than 100 COVID-19 cases in a span of 24 hours for the first time in nearly nine months, according to the data shared by the state government on 27 January.
After witnessing three peaks in June, September and November 2020 respectively (figure 1) - with daily cases rising as high as 8,500 - the city saw a huge dip to just 96 this week.
While it is true that barely half of the usual number of tests were conducted a day before, the recorded cases have remained below 500 throughout January this year (except for 519 on 8 January). The positivity rate has also seen a sharp decline from about 15 percent during the third peak to 0.32 percent today.
Possible Reasons Behind the Decline
Suresh Kumar, the medical director of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Delhi's largest health facility, told PTI that authorities have been able to contain the coronavirus spread through aggressive testing and contact tracing.
"More than one crore tests have been conducted in Delhi so far. On an average, around 60,000 to 70,000 tests are conducted daily. The Delhi government should be credited for its micro-management and planning,” he said.
The cumulative number of tests in Delhi crossed the one crore mark on 20 January.
Another reason could be that the number of people coming from neighbouring states to seek treatment in Delhi has also reduced due to the ongoing farmer protests, said Dr Ajit Jain, the nodal officer for COVID-19 at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, to PTI.
Almost 30 percent of the patients admitted to the hospitals in August 2020 were from other states, and accounted for more than half the number of deaths reported between 3 August to 28 August.
Delhi government has even decreased the reservation of COVID-19 ICU beds in private medical hospitals by 25 percent from the earlier 40 percent requirement, the AAP government informed the Delhi High Court.
The matter has been listed for further hearing by Justice Naveen Chawla on 2 February.
Sero Survey Indicates Delhi May Soon Attain Herd Immunity: Report
Additionally, the fifth round of seroprevalence survey conducted in Delhi has indicated that more than 50 percent of the people who were surveyed have developed antibodies against COVID-19. This has made several experts believe that the city could be heading towards attaining herd immunity against the infection, reported PTI, citing sources on Monday, 25 January.
The survey discovered that in one district, 50-60 percent of the sampled population has developed antibodies to the virus.
According to the report, experts explain that herd immunity is developed when 50-60 percent of a population shows the presence of antibodies in a sero-prevalence survey.
'Herd immunity' ensures that a large percentage of the population becomes immune to infections like COVID-19, which breaks the transmission chain and protects the remaining people within the group from getting infected. This could be a reason behind Delhi’s significant fall in COVID cases.
Herd immunity can be achieved either through exposure to the infection or via vaccination. FIT had explained in detail what this means here.
(With inputs from PTI)
(The article was first published in FIT and has been republished with permission)