Covid-19 situation in Delhi improving steadily, but too early to talk about ‘peak’

India Coronavirus Cases: For eleven consecutive days now, the number of people recovering from the novel Coronavirus disease in Delhi has remained higher than newly-detected infections. This has been the case on 17 out of the last 20 days. No other state has even come close to such a trend.

What this means is that the number of people coming out of the hospitals every day in Delhi is more than the number of people going in. Apart from the fact that it is freeing up hospital space and reducing the burden on healthcare staff, it could also be a signal of something more important. If the trend holds for at least two weeks, the normal recovery time for an infected person, then it could indicate that the disease is reaching its peak, and probably a decline could be nearby.

Scientists and health experts would, however, prefer to observe the trend for slightly longer time before drawing conclusions like this. That is because of inconsistencies in reporting of data. The numbers that are reported every day do not always pertain to that day. There are time lags at each stage. Everyone is not tested in the initial days of infection, and the arrival of test result takes its own time. The compilation of data and its reporting also has a time lag. As a result, very few cases that get reported on any day are from that day itself. Often, the daily data is a mixture of cases that have emerged over the past several days. The information about deaths of people often has a longer time lag because several states have set up death audit committees, which assess the exact cause of death before reporting it.

The daily data released by state governments is therefore only indicative. It is good to pick-up overall trends, and the direction in which the disease is headed, but for assessing whether the disease has arrived at its peak, or has begun declining, a more rigorous look at data over a longer period would be required. At the national level, there has a significant gap in the number of new infections being detected every day, and the number of people being declared recovered from the disease and, in the last few days at least, this gap has only been increasing.

Nevertheless, Delhi does seem to showing promise, and there has been a remarkable turnaround in the situation in the last three weeks. Its growth rate (seven-day compounded daily growth rate) has dropped to 1.38 per cent, the lowest in the country right now.

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