Delhi has reported over 6,000 new Covid cases every day since November 3 and 13 per cent of this may be linked to increased air pollution, the IMA (Indian Medical Association) said Saturday.
The IMA advised people not to venture outdoors early morning, when pollution levels are at their highest and senior citizens and children - believed at greater risk of infection by the coronavirus - are more likely to develop infections and allergies.
"Patients who are sensitive to respiratory diseases may find it difficult to breathe if air quality levels (AQI) is between 50 and 100. An AQI of 300 makes it difficult even those who are otherwise healthy," Dr Rajan Sharma, the president of the medical body, said.
On Saturday morning the national capital recorded an average AQI of 443; a rating of 401 or above is an indicator of "severe" pollution.
Medial experts have, for several weeks now, been harping on the link between air pollution and Covid infections and warned that unless air quality levels in Delhi and other major cities and regions of the country are brought under control, the COVID-19 virus is likely to spread further.
Last week a study by six researchers from different European institutes concluded that 17 per cent of India's 1.26 lakh Covid-related deaths could be linked to exposure to air pollution.
The global average for this statistic is 15 per cent.
The Delhi government is working towards controlling and reducing air pollution levels in the city.
Earlier this week Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal banned firecrackers ahead of Diwali celebrations next Sunday, citing links between air pollution and a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Mr Kejriwal also said no new manufacturing unit would be allowed in the city's industrial areas. Air pollution levels in Delhi have also been affected by the burning of farm stubble in Punjab and Haryana.
The resulting toxic cocktail of smog and pollution has aggravated respiratory and health conditions of the people in Delhi, and increased Covid cases.
On Saturday the city logged 6,953 new cases and on Sunday over 7,000 were recorded. So far, Delhi has reported over 4.3 lakh cases, of which nearly 7,000 are deaths.
The IMA has stressed that apart from immediate measures to protect oneself , long-term measures needed to be implemented to bring down air pollution levels.
The medical body acknowledged that the banning of firecrackers and stubble burning were "helpful public health measures" but urged people to adopt others, including the use of public transport, opting to buy energy-efficient vehicles, planting of trees and green cover, promoting recycling and making use of solar (or renewable) energy sources.