The number of people showing up with severe symptoms of COVID-19 has doubled over the past few days at Delhi's biggest hospital dedicated to such patients.
The Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital has in the past three-four days been receiving twice the number of ICU patients due to the double whammy of pollution and COVID-19, officials have said. The facility has reserved up to 2,000 beds for the coronavirus infected.
"When temperature dips, the severity of the disease increases...We used to have 40-50 ICU patients every day, but now we are seeing 80-90 patients for last 3-4 days," Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital, told NDTV.
"This is due to the combined effect of pollution and COVID-19. The oxygen levels go down for the patient and respiratory issues get worse," Dr Kumar said.
This spike has made way for suspicion that the national capital may be seeing its third COVID-19 wave.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 5,673 new cases, its highest daily tally ever. The positivity rate stood at 9.4%, much higher than the national average of 4.6%.
"I think we should wait for one week and then we would be able to tell you about the trend. It would be too early to call it the third wave right now. But it might be a possibility," Satyender Jain, Delhi Health Minister today said.
"This is the season of festivals and there is slight cold as well. We have increased tests also. Earlier, we used to wait for symptoms to appear in the family members as well as other close contacts, but now the entire contact circle is being tested," Mr Jain said.
Delhi's percentage of RT-PCR tests, considered the gold standard, has also gone up from the 2nd peak last month - from 18% in mid-September to 29% now.
An October 8 report by the National Centre for Disease Control had said Delhi may see up to 15,000 daily cases during the winter, out of which nearly 3,000 would need hospital admission.