Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  Amit Shah addressing party workers in West Bengal (File photo) (Photo by Milind Shelte/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • Data suggests that since Central government stepped in, through direct intervention of Home Minister Amit Shah, the rise of the epidemic has slowed in New Delhi.

    If current trends hold, Delhi might be on its way to bringing Covid-19 under control.

After enduring three long months of confusion, confinement, disease, alarm and death, the good residents of Delhi may finally have a reason to smile.Latest data shows that, ever since the Central government stepped in to take charge of the capital’s dire health situation in mid-June, the Wuhan Virus epidemic is being brought under control at long last.With that, a welcome sense of firm resolve and clear purpose is also now evident in Delhi’s epidemic data trends.

Positivity, which is a measure of positive cases to total samples tested, and which had been spiking at an alarming rate, has slowed its rise.Testing is up; rapid antigen kits have been distributed across the national capital region, and the previously-prevailing lethargy has vanished.Nearly three times more hospital beds have been organised for patients on a war footing, by the ingenious device of converting railway coaches into wards.Rates have been fixed for treatment in private hospitals, putting an end to monstrous bills.And most merciful of all, hundreds of dead bodies, which had been insensitively kept in storage for reasons best known to Delhi’s Chief Minister, have been laid to rest after a shockingly inordinate, and reprehensible, delay.

This is in direct contrast to most of May and early June, when Chief Minister Kejriwal, instead of aggressively ramping up testing levels, let rates dip in an unacceptable lapse of leadership.Delhi paid the price for that with human lives.The data does not lie:

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

As can be seen in the chart above, testing rates in Delhi (the broad, green line) followed a downward trend from early May to early June. This negligent decline was reversed, and started to rise from mid-June, once the Central government took over.The positive effect of this fresh infusion of efficiency and direction is quite dramatically visible in a cumulative testing chart below.Note how sharply the green line deviates upwards from 18 June onwards:

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

This turnaround is also directly reflected in positivity, which, today, is the single most important parameter for epidemic assessment.

No state may claim that it has broken the chain or flattened the curve, even if case counts are down, unless it also shows that positivity rates are dipping consistently downwards.

Thus far, only Madhya Pradesh has this distinction.

In Delhi, on the other hand, positivity had actually declined to 7 per cent by mid-May, when fortunes reversed and the curve began to spike alarmingly.

This disturbing trend is now finally being tamed.

As the positivity plot below shows, the rate of positivity growth has declined to almost zero, with positivity levels holding at just under 17 per cent for the last three days:

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

Note how the green Delhi line in the chart above has formed a plateau. For comparison, see the steep rates at which the Telangana (maroon) and Maharashtra (black) curves are rising.

For perspective, see how the dark blue Madhya Pradesh curve has settled into a consistent, declining trend.

This same data can be treated to display positivity trends in a dimensionless manner, by plotting positivity against tests per million, which is a function of how much of the city’s population has been incrementally covered by testing.

Here, in such a plot below, we see that while Delhi had consistently been testing more of its population than other regions (by virtue of being a city state), this was not matched by efficient containment.

That has now changed as well:

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

But that is not to say that the case count has started declining definitively; no – not yet.

As Union Home Minister Amit Shah explained in his interview to ANI today, enhancing testing levels was the first step in identifying the spread of the virus.

This has been done, and is now being followed up by an aggressive contact tracing and isolation programme. We can see proof of this quite clearly, by overlaying positivity on daily case counts in a combination plot as the one below:

Delhi Covid-19 Update — Some Good News, Under New Management  

Note that in this combination plot, the green, daily cases Y-axis, and the cumulative cases X-axis, are in logarithmic scale, while the black, positivity curve is plotted on a Cartesian scale.

While it is too early to start counting chickens, a distinct slowing down of the positivity curve (black), in tandem with a slowing down of the daily case count (green), augurs well for Delhi.

At the very least, Delhi Minister Manish Sisodia’s insensitive prediction, that there would be half a million cases in the capital by end-July, will now be proved wrong.

And, Delhi could well commence a return to normalcy in a month, courtesy this revised approach to epidemic management under the Central government, with many lives having been saved.

(All data from Covid19india.org and MoHFW)

Venu Gopal Narayanan is an independent upstream petroleum consultant who focuses on energy, geopolitics, current affairs and electoral arithmetic. He tweets at @ideorogue.
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