The Delhi government on Saturday directed hospitals and labs to ramp up testing to ensure early detection of Covid-19 infections amid a minor uptick of cases in the city, officials said.
Health experts, however, said there was no reason to panic as the uptick remained insignificant in terms of the city’s population and majority of patients were not reporting severe symptoms.
Data from the Delhi government’s health department showed that the seven-day avearge of Covid-19 infections has jumped to 34 for the week ended Saturday, compared to 14 from the preceding week. On Saturday, Delhi reported 58 new Covid cases.
Despite the recent uptick, cases in the city remain significantly lower than what the city has experienced in the three years of the pandemic. Delhi, infact, has not seen a notable surge since early last year, when the relatively mild Omicron surge was reported in January 2022.
However, despite the recent increase in infections, the positivity rate in the Capital remained below 5%, according to government data. To be sure, experts have said that the positivity rate at the moment remains an inflated statistic as people are only getting tested when they’re exhibiting symptoms.
“Currently, the Covid numbers are showing an uptick because people with influenza-like symptoms (ILS) are being advised to get tested by healthcare professionals. Some of them are testing positive, but there is no need to panic. Both H3N2 and Covid have similar symptoms. In some flu cases, symptoms prolong, but healthy patients will recover without any complications,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak Hospital.
On Friday, Delhi health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the government has directed heads of all state-run hospitals and healthcare centres to ensure testing is ramped up. Senior health officials also said that they will conduct need-based testing and increase it from the current 1,500 tests per day, to up to 5,000 tests from Monday.
Dr Kumar said that the severity of infections continues to range from mild to moderate.
He said that over the last month, only two patients were admitted to Lok Nayak Hospital with Covid and no admissions were made for complications from H3N2.
Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director and senior director at the institute of internal medicine, Max Healthcare, said that north India has two flu seasons in a year — first after the monsoon and the second during winter in December and January. However, this year, the flu season has extended. “We are in mid-March and are still getting many flu cases. Most patients have a high-grade fever with other symptoms like shivering, body ache, headache, cough, cold, throat pain, etc. Some complain of abdominal pain and diarrhea as well,” Dr Budhiraja said.
He added that many patients also complain of extreme fatigue, mental fog, drowsiness, and inability to concentrate for many days post the illness.
“The symptoms of post-viral illness or post-viral asthenia are very prominent,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Union health ministry wrote to six states directing state-level authorities to follow a risk assessment-based approach to handle the spread of influenza-like illnesses. The ministry advised Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Telangana, Kerala, and Karnataka to increase testing, treating, vaccinating, and tracking of rising viral infections, including Covid-19.