Delhi Health Minister Satyender Jain has said it was too early to say if the record one-day surge of 5,673 cases in the national capital indicated the start of a third wave of COVID-19 infections in the city.
"We should wait and observe the trend for a week. We will not be able to say anything in definite terms till then. It is too early to call it a third wave just yet. But, it might be a possibility," said Mr Jain, who has been overseeing the readiness of healthcare facilities in Delhi amid the pandemic.
Delhi has been recording an average of 4,000-plus cases for the past week. It logged 4,853 new coronavirus cases for the first time on Monday, and broke that record two days later - a worrying sign, especially when COVID-19 levels have shown a drastic drop nationally.
Mr Jain, however, has said the steady rise in cases was not unexpected and that the government had changed its strategy to meet the challenge.
"This is the season of festivals and it has become slightly cold as well. We have made some changes to our strategy. Now, when a person tests positive, we also test his entire family and all his close contacts. We do this not just once but twice - the second time after 4 to 5 days," he said.
Unlike earlier, when we used to wait for symptoms to appear in family members and other close contacts, the entire contact circle is being tested immediately, Satyender Jain said.
Our aim is to ensure that not even a single case is missed, he said in the backdrop of a proposed meeting of top officials today to discuss prevention and suppression measures in Delhi.
"This (increased testing) could be a reason why the numbers are spiking. But it is the best strategy to contain this disease. We're hopeful that we will see good results soon. We have strengthened contact tracing as well," said Mr Jain, whose condition had deteriorated after contracting COVID-19, and recovered with plasma therapy.
He added that in Delhi 5,000 beds were being used to treat Covid patients and 10,000 were available for those who may need it, assuring that the city is prepared to handle a rise in case.
Earlier this month, the National Centre for Disease Control had warned that in winter Delhi could likely report around 15,000 Covid-19 cases daily. It had recommended that the state make arrangements for hospital admission of patients with moderate and severe symptoms. Their Delhi-specific study had estimated that Covid patients in need of institutional care could be up to 20 per cent of the surge - 3,000 cases a day.
According to officials, Delhi experienced its first wave of coronavirus infections in June, peaking at 3,947 daily cases on June 23 with a testing average of 17,000 daily tests. The second wave peaked on September 16 with 4,473 daily cases and daily testing average of more than 60,000 tests.
The city is now bracing for a third wave amid dropping temperatures and rising pollution in the backdrop of the festive season. For now, the daily testing average remains the same, data shows.
Delhi has 29,378 active Covid cases - more than 3.7 lakh total cases - with 6,396 deaths linked to the virus.