India Coronavirus Dispatch: The reasons behind Delhi's 'third wave'

A health worker collects a nasal sample from a woman for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Srinagar (File photo)
Why Delhi is seeing its ‘third wave’ of Covid-19: Infections in Delhi have been surging. The national capital saw its highest single-day count on Wednesday. Experts say the rise could be due to a combination of factors including the festive season, more pollution, and a drop in temperatures. 

Delhi's rise in infections comes in contrast to other states with high caseloads such as Maharashtra and Karnataka. In these states, the infection counts have stayed put over the last week or so. Overall, India's daily caseload has been seeing a downward trend since September.

After temperatures dropped to 10 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department could declare a cold wave in the city. Public health experts warn that this could worsen the crisis in the city.

The city's air quality index worsened to the "severe" category. The reading soared to 452 on Thursday. Another factor is fatigue from quarantining at home for months at a stretch coupled with the preparations for the festive season, people seem to be more willing to leave the house. Also, Delhi relies on the RT-PCT test, while several other states use antigen testing which has a higher risk of false negatives. This may also be contributing to Delhi's high numbers. Read more here

New airport arrival guidelines explained:  For those traveling into India, the health ministry has dropped the requirement to quarantine, whether institutional or home, as long as the passenger provides a Covid-19 negative certificate from an RT-PCT test conducted within 72 hours of taking the flight. But, are there any exceptions? What is the process to be exempted? What if a passenger could not get the test ahead of taking the flight? Do these guidelines apply uniformly across all states. Find answers to all these questions here

Covid-19 can potentially cause some heart damage to even the young and asymptomatic: Covid-19 can harm your heart too. It can trigger blood clots in severe cases and cause inflammation and scarring. A new study shows that even asymptomatic young people, who are not considered to be vulnerable to the virus, are at risk for developing potentially dangerous inflammation around the heart. Partho Sengupta, chief of cardiology at West Virginia University, and his team found evidence of heart abnormalities in over one-third of student athletes who tested positive and underwent cardiac screening. SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, can cause an array of damage, including triggering inflammatory responses in the heart muscle and surrounding tissue. As many as 1 in 8 hospitalised Covid-19 patients have some form of heart damage. Read more here

The K factor: R-value, an epidemiological value that is closely monitored, denotes the number of people an individual patient can infect. A figure under one indicates that the number of active cases is decreasing. A figure under one indicates that the number of active cases is decreasing. India has managed to bring its R-value to below 1. Contact tracing data from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh highlights another epidemiological value—the K factor. The K parameter models how many ‘super-spreader events’ may have caused the infection to spread. According to a recent study published in the journal Science super spreading played a huge role in the two states—with eight in ten Covid-19 cases traced back to 5 per cent of the infected people. The K factor in these states was estimated to be 0.51. If K is less than 1, it indicates that one or two super spreader events caused a bulk of infections. A higher K factor shows that the spread of the disease is more even. Read more here 

Chest scans in place of RT-PCR: Chest scans may be explored as an alternative to inconclusive results from RT-PCR testing, which is considered to be the gold standard in confirming a Covid-19 infection. Read more here 

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