NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The latest surge of coronavirus infections in the Indian capital, that has swamped its intensive care wards and killed hundreds of people, has passed its peak, the city’s top health official said on Monday, dismissing fears of another lockdown.
“I can definitely tell you that the peak is gone and cases will slowly come down now,” Satyendar Jain, minister of health in the city government, told Reuters partner ANI, pointing to a decline in the city’s positivity rate.
New Delhi has seen a surge in novel coronavirus infections this month, what authorities have called a third wave that has killed more than 600 people dead in the past week, even as cases in other parts of the country have declined.
India has reported more than 8.8 million confirmed cases – the second highest in the world, after the United States – but the number of new daily cases has fallen since a peak in mid-September. India has recorded 129,635 coronavirus deaths.
On Monday, the federal health ministry posted a daily rise of 30,548 infections.
Economic activity has slowly picked up as authorities relax restrictions after a harsh lockdown was imposed across the country in late March to slow down the spread of the virus.
The hardest-hit state of Maharashtra reopened places of worship on Monday with instructions to maintain social distancing and people trickled in wearing masks.
In Delhi, Jain said that there was “no chance” of another lockdown, even as authorities prepared hundreds of additional intensive care beds and ramped up capacity to conduct more than 100,000 tests a day.
“We are analysing the data daily and keeping a watch on the positivity,” Jain said. Delhi has been carrying out an average of 55,000 tests a day.
The city’s positivity rate – the percentage of people who test positive of all those tested – has declined since early November. But it rose again on Sunday, when fewer people were tested owing to a major festival on the weekend, possibly skewing the findings, an official said.
(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel)