Every fourth sample tested returned a positive result for the novel coronavirus in Delhi last week — positivity for a total cumulative testing rate of 2,018 tests per million population was 25.7%.
In some districts like North East Delhi and South East Delhi, where testing was lower than the average for the city, the positivity rate was as high as more than 38% — that is, two out of every five samples tested — came out positive.
The footprint of the infection extends to all 11 districts of the national capital. The highest rates of positivity are in South East Delhi (38.8% at 506 tests per million) and North East Delhi (38.6% at 517 tests per million), followed by West Delhi (38% at 1,817 per million), North West Delhi (36.7% at 1,334 tests per million), and East Delhi (34% at 1,452 per million).
The fact that the two districts with the lowest testing have the highest positivity was discussed at a review meeting Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had with Delhi officials on Thursday.
Of the more than 23,500 cases in the city, as many as 10,228 — 43.34 per cent — have emerged in the last 10 days.
Previously, between May 16 and May 26, Delhi registered an average positivity rate of 13.17 per cent.
Data released by the Health Department in compliance with a May 4 order of the Delhi High Court show that since May 28 — when the daily increase in case numbers reached four figures — the positivity rate has remained above 17 per cent, and touched a staggering 37.7 per cent on May 31.
On May 28, 1,024 out of 5,988 samples tested positive for Covid-19 — a positivity of 17.1 per cent.
The following day, the numbers were 1,105 out of 5,272, or a positivity rate of 21 per cent.
The numbers on May 30 and May 31 were 1,163 out of 5,783 (20.1 per cent) and 1,295 out of 3,436 (37.7 per cent) respectively.
On June 1, June 2, and June 3, 990, 1,298 and 1,513 positive cases were reported respectively. The data on testing were not available immediately.
Previously, between May 16 and May 26, the city registered an average positivity rate of 13.17 per cent.
Overall, the positivity rate for Delhi from the beginning of the outbreak until June 3 is 10.27 per cent – with 23,645 positive cases in 2,30,145 tests. This overall figure does not, however, capture the recent spike in positivity.
The increasing positivity numbers in Delhi is in line with a national steepening of the curve. An analysis last week of daily data released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed a positivity of 7% nationally; that, however, was more than double that of April.
At the meeting with the Health Minister, several officials complained of a “laxity” in attitudes seen since the process of unlockdown began. They identified this as a reason for the surge in cases in the national capital.
Sources said South Delhi DM B M Mishra expressed frustration that “people… in the area [were demonstrating] a lot of laxity in their behaviour as if Corona hasn’t happened at all”.
“As the number of cases and fatalities rise in Delhi, it needs to ramp up testing coupled with aggressive surveillance, contact tracing, and stringent containment and perimeter control activities… The high rate of infection in healthcare workers is also a serious issue. It indicates poor infection prevention control practices in healthcare settings, and needs to be attended to on priority,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.