- Delhi is reporting a surge in daily COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate
- Delhi and other states have relaxed the mandate on wearing a mask
- We should be concerned but there is no need to panic: Dr Rommel Tickoo
New Delhi: On Thursday (April 14), Delhi recorded 325 new cases of COVID-19, the highest in 40 days that is since March 3. The positivity rate in the national capital has surged to 2.39 per cent. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday (April 12) said his government is keeping a close watch on the COVID situation in the capital and there is no major reason to panic at present. “We will take all necessary steps according to the situation,” he said.
An uptick in cases is being seen in the Delhi-NCR region and Mumbai as well. This comes at a time when various states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Telangana, among others, have relaxed the mandate on wearing a face mask at all times in public places. At this juncture, how worrying is the surge in COVID-19 cases in Delhi?
Dr. Rommel Tickoo, Director, Internal Medicine, Max Super Specialty Hospital called to be cautious amid an increase in COVID cases. He said,
We should be concerned but there is no need to panic. The numbers are going up but the majority of the patients are in home isolation and recovering at home; no severe disease is happening and none of them are getting hospitalised. But, we can’t let our guards down and be complacent.
In Delhi, there is no fine for not wearing face masks in public places which means it’s voluntary to wear a mask. Talking about the same, Dr Tickoo said,
If you are out and in crowded places, the least you can do is wear a mask because it does prevent you from getting infected. You might not get the disease but you can be a carrier of infection for elderly and vulnerable people at home. After the mask mandate has gone, people have really let their guards down.
Sharing similar views, Dr. Mugdha Tapdiya, Senior Consultant – Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj said, that wearing a face mask is one of the most important tools to prevent transmission. Dr Tapdiya believes that a drop in the usage of face masks is one reason behind the surge. She added,
Schools have reopened and not all children in the eligible age group have taken the COVID vaccine. Children can become the carriers of the infection. Hence, it’s important they continue wearing a mask.
To contain the infection, the Delhi government on Wednesday (April 13) released an order urging people to follow all COVID precautions – masking, social distancing, and handwashing. If any case of COVID is reported, the school is supposed to inform the Directorate of Education and close down the concerned wing of the school or the school as a whole as the case maybe.
When asked if there is a link between the rise in COVID-19 cases and the lifting of restrictions, Dr. Viny Kantroo, Consultant, Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi said it will be premature to draw a connection between the two. Dr Kantroo said,
In any case, people were not compliant. Now, with the government removing the fine on not wearing a face mask, the message has gone in the wrong way. We need to be strict for some more time and wear a mask at least in crowded places. Secondly, all restrictions have been lifted now and everything has opened – from schools to markets to international travel – so, this kind of spike was expected.
Referring to the UK, Dr Tapdiya had a word of caution and said,
We saw this trend in the UK where cases spiked soon after all rules and mandates were let off. But they continued because there wasn’t a rise in hospital admissions; no lockdown was imposed. To stop ourselves from landing in the same situation, we need to make the wearing of a mask mandatory and even then if cases rise or a new variant hits, we can put restrictions on public gatherings.
Dr Tickoo believes that India won’t see a major COVID wave unless a new monstrous variant that is more virulent and transmissible hits us. But we have to live with it now, he said and added,
The way we handle flu, we have to handle COVID-19. It’s sort of becoming endemic in India. There will be sporadic spikes here and there but no major wave happening. I would reiterate that we can’t let our guards down. We have seen what this virus is capable of.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.