Is the Curve Flattening? A Covid-19 Hotspot in Delhi is Now Virus-Free


Is the Curve Flattening? A Covid-19 Hotspot in Delhi is Now Virus-Free

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

On Friday evening, figures released by the Union Health Ministry showed that the number of positive coronavirus cases in India had crossed 6,000. Even as the nationwide lockdown declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be in effect across the country’s states and Union Territories, there has been a daily increase in the numbers of positive coronavirus cases. However, it’s not all bad news. The data from the Union Health Ministry showed 6,039 active cases, but also showed 515 patients having recovered. The news is encouraging, as despite the still-climbing numbers, it’s proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Another silver lining in the otherwise grim national scenario comes from the capital, New Delhi, which reported 183 cases on Friday – the highest single-day spike so far. Late last month, the Delhi government had sealed off most parts of the neighbourhood known as Dilshad Garden, after it emerged as one of the 10 coronavirus hotspots in the country. After a woman returned from Saudi Arabia last month, seven people tested positive for Covid-19 in the locality. The government was swift to act and declare it a containment zone. Police sealed parts of Dilshad Garden with barricades and restricted movements of vehicles as well as pedestrians. CCTV camera footage was scanned to track the movements of people. And now, after days of intensive imposition of home quarantine, rigorous door-to-door testing, and diligent tracing of suspected or at-risk individuals, Dilshad Garden has been declared coronavirus-free by the Delhi government, with no new cases reported in the past 10 days.

Earlier this week, on Thursday, the Delhi government gave a name to its coronavirus fighting measures, collectively calling them Operation Shield. “I feared a massive outbreak in Dilshad Garden but the hard work of health officials and the successful implementation of the Operation Shield has made the area coronavirus-free,” said Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain.

As of now, 30 containment zones have been created in Delhi, and sealed off in a manner similar to what was seen in Dilshad Garden. Some key features of Operation Shield include doorstep delivery of essential commodities, door-to-door health checks, and regular sanitisation of public spaces by authorities.

The example of Dilshad Nagar gives governments a goal to aim for, even as the numbers of coronavirus cases continue to rise. A report in Indian Express, which spoke to experts tracking the spread of the coronavirus in the country, found that while the lockdown has not impacted the rate of increase in the number of cases, there are signs in the data that inspire hope.

“We were hoping to notice a flattening of the growth curve after two weeks of the lockdown coming into effect. As of now, that does not seem to be happening. But something interesting seems to be going on at the state level. For the last two days (April 6 onwards), the curve for Maharashtra is showing signs of bending. It is still early days, but noticeable,” said Sitabhra Sinha of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai. The state is the worst affected in the country with 1,666 positive cases.

However, with signs of better days to come, the very likely possibility of the nationwide lockdown being extended becomes easier to stomach.