Authorities in Delhi have tracked an average of three individuals per Covid patient and registered a positivity rate of up to 37% among these contacts, according to information obtained from four out of 11 districts in the city through the Right to Information Act (RTI).
According to the Delhi government’s records, till October 3, Covid-19 has affected 2.87 lakh people in the city, a figure based on over 32 lakh tests. Out of the total, over 2.57 lakh people have recovered, 5,472 have died, leaving 25,234 active cases.
An analysis of responses from Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and East districts show that the four districts collectively tracked and isolated 1.25 lakh contacts of Covid-19 cases between March and mid-September. Among those contacts who were tested, 12,569 came out as positive.
Tracking and testing are among the main pillars of governments across the globe in the fight against the pandemic. Medical experts stress on mass testing not just to identify corona positive individuals but also to isolate their contacts and put them under quarantine to curb the spread of the virus.
According to data made available by the Chief Medical Officer of East district, Dr Rekha Rawat, the district recorded 15,251 Covid positive cases till September 20. It tracked and isolated 39,600 contacts, tested 12,529 such people, of which 4,638 turned out to be positive.
Northeast district medical officer Dr R K Sehgal said in his response that the district registered 5,870 corona cases till September 9. Against the total infected persons, 18,884 contacts were traced and isolated, of which 1,196 tested positive.
In the Northwest district, till August 28, 22,492 positive cases were detected. District medical officer Dr Meenakshi Hembram said 44,191 contacts of total detected cases were traced and 16,101 tested, of which 3,384 were found to be positive.
Southwest district tracked and isolated 23,063 contacts, the district’s contact tracing cell said in a response on September 14, adding that 16,046 such individuals were tested and 3,351 among them found positive. It also said that 7,017 contacts of Covid positive cases refused to get tested.
According to central guidelines, persons with a history of close proximity to corona positive patients are identified as contacts. Among this category, those with co-morbidities are categorised as high-risk and the rest are grouped as low-risk.
Two Delhi health department officials said that during the early stages of the outbreak, an average of 10 contacts, and in some cases over 15, were being traced. However, with the spread of the virus, the scope of the exercise had to be reduced to make best possible use of the available resources.
The contacts are monitored from the surveillance hubs set up at the district levels.
High-risk contacts are advised to home quarantine for 14 days. According to the Covid-19 protocol for contact tracing, low-risk contacts “do not mean no-risk contact and equal emphasis must be given for low-risk contacts as they are potential sources for transmitting the disease”.
Meanwhile, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters that the Covid situation in the city, especially in terms of deaths, has “stabilised”. He said the bed occupancy at the hospitals has reduced by over 1,000 in the past week and expressed satisfaction over the rate of testing.
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