As infection numbers rise again, Delhi needs to correct laxity in testing and masking

A day after the capital reported the highest number of daily cases in 40 days (1,544), chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called an emergency meeting and the Delhi government decided to double the number of daily tests from current levels to around 40,000. As Kejriwal said in a press briefing over the video, cases have been increasing since August 17 after nearly one and half months of the Covid-19 situation being under control. It is a reminder that this is a long haul fight, needing governments to be alert and responsive to changes on the ground because even a downward infection trajectory cannot be taken for granted.

Two factors stand out in trying to understand the new spike in infections in the capital. One, not only has daily testing seen a drop recently, the proportion of RT-PCR tests has dropped to around 30% of total tests with the bulk being antigen testing — which is much worse at picking up infection in close contacts, asymptomatic and mild cases. Second, as any glance at the capital’s markets reveals, too many people are either not wearing masks or wearing these improperly, even as the effort to propagandize or enforce mask discipline remains very half-hearted. The Kejriwal government has done good to not delay accepting what the data is saying. Now it must deliver the necessary response.

Read also: Covid-19: Delhi records highest spike in cases in Aug

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