Over the past months in Delhi, the number of cases and deaths has fluctuated considerably – from close to 100 deaths in a few weeks in June to 14 deaths a day in the first two weeks in August to 30 deaths on an average now. The case fatality ratio, however, has declined steadily month on month between July and September.
While the mortality rate in July was 3.12%, it had fallen to 2.54% by the end of August. As of now, it stands at 2.04%.
Over the last one week, Delhi has been reporting 30-40 Covid deaths per day and close to 4,000 cases a day.
According to experts, shift in admission criteria, aggressive testing, creation of more health facilities and advancement in treatment are some of the factors behind the drop in fatality rate over the last two months.
Several health experts explained the correlation between active cases and the number of deaths. “Management of patients has improved significantly; healthcare professionals are using several new drugs during treatment. Cases where patients would die suddenly have gone down considerably. If the infection is detected on time, patients isolated early and administered treatment at the right time, the mortality rate will be reduced overall. In Delhi, most homes now have a pulse oximeter which has played an important role in the management of the disease. People are monitoring their oxygen levels at home and are approaching hospitals for treatment, if required,” said Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Testing capacity in Delhi has also increased manifold. On Sunday, Delhi saw 3,812 new cases, taking the tally to 2,46,711. The death toll mounted to 4,982 with 37 new deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. Over 52,000 tests were conducted in a day. “It is good that the death rate is less than 1% lately; it used to be above 3.5-4% for a month earlier,” Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said on Friday.
In the first week of June, a strategy document was prepared by a team of experts – AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava and Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh from NCDC – for containment of Covid-19 in the capital.
A top official from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare explained the rationale behind the trend.
“Presently, we do not have any evidence to say it is because of the natural cycle of the virus. Therefore, it has to be attributed to proactive steps. A strategy laid down for the Delhi government by the expert team had three broad parts. The first focused on steps to be taken in containment, surveillance, and contact tracing; the second part dealt with how to ensure monitoring of people under home isolation and if need be, shift them to hospitals; the third part was how hospitalised patients should be tackled. These three parts then had various specific instructions and the whole document was based on the assumption that all efforts within a district would be led by the district magistrates. The implementation of this strategy has resulted in a lower mortality rate.”
AIIMS medical superintendent, DK Sharma, meanwhile, said that one theory is that more people with no co-morbid conditions are testing positive now, as opposed to earlier.
“Covid-19 is known to aggravate the condition in those with pre-existing illnesses. Those suffering from serious ailments were the first to get affected by the disease… now, relatively healthier people are testing positive and are able to fight the virus. This is one theory. As we still do not have a definite treatment, we cannot say what has helped patients recover just yet,” he said.
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