New Delhi Sees Virus Surge as India’s National Numbers Dip


INDIA’S capital is in a Covid-19 crisis with a surge in new infections even as the country’s overall numbers have dipped, signaling a worrying turn in the pandemic.

New Delhi recorded an average of 7,000 new infections each day over the last week, with over 8,593 cases reported on Nov. 11, according to local government data. The numbers fell to just over 3,500 over the weekend, which marked the Hindu Diwali festival. But that dip coincided with a sharp fall in the city’s daily testing tally to a little over 21,000 tests compared to the roughly 60,000 tests that have been conducted over the last two months, according to reports.

Meanwhile, India’s new infections dipped below 30,000 for the first time since around mid-July, government data showed on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to more than 8.8 million, second only to the U.S.

Delhi’s testing has been criticised because on most days more than two-thirds of its tests have been quick antigen tests, which have a high number of false negatives.

Over the weekend federal Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with top Delhi government officials to help manage the health crisis, and said the city would double its more reliable real time-polymerase chain reaction tests as a priority and receive several hundred extra intensive care beds.

The Indian capital has seen a rise in hospitalisations with the government dashboard on Tuesday showing there were only about 418 intensive care beds available for Covid-19 patients in the city’s hospitals and only 116 of those had ventilator support in a city with 19 million people.

On Monday, Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain told reporters the city was “definitely past the third peak” of infections and he expected cases to start declining soon, following earlier peaks in June and September.

A combination of factors, including cooler winter temperatures and heavy pollution, have hurt Delhi’s pandemic efforts, compounded by India’s festival and wedding season which has seen huge crowds throng to markets.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.