Delhi Reports 3,797 Covid Cases In 24 Hours, Number Of Tests Below 30K

Fewer than 30,000 coronavirus tests were conducted in the preceding 24 hours, of which the majority - 18,011 - were the less reliable Rapid Antigen variety

Delhi has recorded over 4.89 lakh Covid cases since the pandemic began in December last year (File)

New Delhi:

Delhi reported 3,797 new Covid cases and 99 coronavirus-linked deaths in the past 24 hours, data showed Monday night. The data also showed that only 29,821 tests had been conducted in a day and that the positivity rate was still nearly two-and-a-half times worse than the national average.

This is the second consecutive day that the number of daily new cases in the national capital is below 4,000 - a welcome statistic given the city logged over 7,000 cases per day between November 10 and 14 and over 5,000 per day from November 3. The number of deaths, though, remains around the 100-mark; 95 were reported on Sunday and 91 on Saturday.

However, with fewer than 30,000 coronavirus tests conducted in the past 24 hours (of which the majority - 18,011 - were the less reliable Rapid Antigen variety) questions continue to be asked about the lack of testing possibly hiding the true spread of the virus.

The number of daily tests - critical to quickly identify and isolate Covid patients, and track the diffusion of the virus - has gone down steadily from 64,121 on November 11 to 56,553 on November 13. The number dipped to an alarming low of 21,098 on Sunday.

The drop in testing, which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has declared will now cross one lakh per day, has been attributed to a shortage of staff because of the festive season.

Meanwhile, Delhi's positivity rate (or percentage of tests that return a positive result), is still far too high - it was 12.73 per cent for the past 24 hours and 15.33 per cent in the period before that. By comparison the national average Monday morning was only 5.3 per cent.

Experts stress that increased testing is key to slowing the number of new infections and the spread of the virus, and bringing down the positivity rate.

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The spike in cases began around 12 days ago. On November 3 the city reported 6,725 cases in 24 hours; a 2,724-case increase from the day before. Three days later that figure crossed the 7,000-mark and eight days later it crossed the 8,000-mark for the first time in this pandemic.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday to discuss the Covid situation in Delhi. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr Kejriwal said: "There is also a plan to increase the number of tests conducted from the current 60,000 a day to one lakh."

Mr Shah also directed that the number of RT-PCR tests (seen as more reliable) per day be doubled, the number of ICU and oxygen beds be increased, and additional doctors and medics be flown in. 

This morning Health Minister Satyendar Jain dismissed the possibility of another lockdown in the capital and claimed that "the peak of Delhi's third wave is gone". Mr Jain said he expected the number of cases to fall now that the festive season was "over and crowds will get thinner".

This was after a report from the central government last month warned Delhi could see an average of 15,000 cases per day as a combined result of lack of social distancing during the festive season, deteriorating air quality levels and winter.

The overall number of cases in Delhi is now more than 4.89 lakh. Of this over 7,600 are deaths linked to the virus. The active caseload has crossed 40,000 - this was below 10,000 in August.