In a press conference on Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a bizarre claim that pollution was responsible for the drastic rise of Coronavirus cases in the National Capital. As of November 13, Delhi has recorded a whopping 43,116 active cases and a total of 7,332 fatalities.
Arvind Kejriwal stated, “…When we wake up from sleep, we see only smoke around us. The number of Coronavirus cases in Delhi is rising dramatically. And the major reason behind this is pollution. We had earlier controlled the number of active cases, till October 20. But, since then, cases have been on the rise. There are many reasons but pollution happens to be the major reason…”
पराली को खाद में बदलने वाली बायो-डिकम्पोज़र तकनीक दिल्ली में कामयाब रही। अब वक्त आ गया है कि सभी सरकारें इसे लागू कर किसानों की मदद करें।— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 13, 2020
Press Conference | LIVE https://t.co/mxHyuP7NxP
Science Vs Arvind Kerjriwal
While it is true that air pollution aggravates the health condition of Coronavirus patients, as it affects the lungs, it is incorrect to say that pollution causes new coronavirus cases. The Novel Coronavirus spreads from person to person, when an infected person sneezes or coughs, the viruses come out with the droplets coming out of the person. Any healthy person coming in contact with these virus-laden droplets gets infected with the virus. Whether the air is polluted or not has nothing to do with how the virus infects people.
On the other hand, as COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, polluted air makes the situation worse for COVID-19 patients. Therefore, the severe air pollution in Delhi should increase the severity of the infected persons, which means, it should increase the demand for ICUs and ventilators, and also perhaps the rate of death of the patients. But it is incorrect to say that air pollution increases the rate of coronavirus infection among people. That is a wrong claim made by the Delhi CM.
Second wave of Coronavirus in Delhi
Last month, Arvind Kejriwal had conceded that the ‘second wave’ of Coronavirus had peaked in the National Capital but the situation has been under control. He claimed, “The Covid-19 situation in Delhi is under control now. The peak of the second wave of infections was witnessed on September 17, when around 4,500 cases were recorded. With time, the number of fresh cases has gone down even with the high number of tests being done.” He added that there has been a drastic reduction in the occupancy of hospital beds and ICUs. Arvind Kejriwal had also claimed in August of the possibility of having gone past the ‘second wave’.
However, Dr Puneet Mishra of AIIMS Delhi emphasised that it could not be said with certainty whether Delhi has been witnessing the second wave of infection or had gone past it. “In epidemiology, a second wave will be when the first wave has subsided to the baseline and has remained low for some time before going up,” he explained. He added that cases will increase until the development of herd immunity.
Based on ‘new’ sample collection methodology for 3rd round of sero-survey, which collected data ward-wise instead of districts and types of residences (planned colonies, slums, unauthorised colonies), it was found that the prevalence of Coronavirus has declined from 29.1% to 24.8%. Dr Puneet explained, “The dip could have been because of the change in the sample collection method. There are also some reports of the antibody titers (concentrations) going down over time. However, even if antibody levels go down, people are likely to still have innate immunity from the infection with very few cases of re-infection. This means Delhi might develop herd immunity soon.”
Delhi model and mismanagement of the pandemic; Amit Shah to the rescue
It must be remembered that the myth of ‘Delhi model’, as promulgated by the left-liberal lobby and Arvind Kejriwal, was debunked when the National Capital was reeling under the crisis of the pandemic. In early June, Satyendra Jain, the Health Minister of NCT Delhi, had stated that the capital was likely to witness another 30000 coronavirus cases in the following 12-15 days i.e. double the number of cases. While speaking to ANI, Satyendra Jain said that orders had been issued to increase the number of beds by 2000 in the following 2-3 days. It was expected that Delhi would need 15000 beds by the end of the month.
At one point, the Delhi government had lost all hopes and resorted to blaming the ‘outsiders’ for the rise in the number of Coronavirus cases. Delhi desperately needed adult supervision of its elected government. And they got it. The Prime Minister put together a team to “help” Delhi and Amit Shah stepped in. The number of tests that were conducted on an everyday basis increased while the positivity rate declined. Things turned around for Delhi with the Center coming in. It is difficult to imagine how bad things could have gotten in Delhi, had there not been the Centre to babysit the Delhi government.
Delhi High Court slams AAP govt
With the supervision of Amit Shah now gone, the Delhi government is back to square one. Recently, the Delhi High Court rebuked the Arvind Kejriwal government over the rising cases of COVID-19 in the national capital and stated that the city could soon become ‘corona capital of the country’. Observing that the Delhi government has gone completely “haywire” on the pandemic, the two-judge bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad pulled up the AAP govt for taking the health of the citizens for a ride.
Rising cases of Coronavirus in the world
The number of active cases and Coronavirus-related deaths have witnessed a steep rise throughout the world. As of Friday, there are 1.45 crore active cases in the world and a total of 13 lac fatalities. Overall, 5.3 crore people have been infected so far while 3.7 crore individuals have been fully recovered.
In the United States, Coronavirus has claimed 2.48 lac lives (constituting 4% of the total infected individuals) and infected over 1 crore people. The number of recoveries/discharges made in the cases stand at 67 lacs. Similarly, Spain has reported around 14 lac cases, resulting in 40,461 deaths as of November 13.
China and the origin of the pandemic
The origin of Covid-19 has been traced to a seafood market in the Chinese commercial city of Wuhan. Despite speculations about SARS-CoV-2 having been lab-engineered, till date no proof consolidates it. A scientific study published in the journal, Nature Medicine, has ruled out the possibility of the responsible virus SARS-CoV-2 being man-made or a biological weapon leaked through a lab. According to World Health Organisation’s (WHO), by December 31, 2019, cases of pneumonia were reported in only a few clusters of Hubei province, while by January 5, 2020, the causative agent was not identified as a new virus.
While it is well known now that the coronavirus infection had started and was spreading as early as November 2019, till January 14, the Chinese authorities have claimed that the Covid-19 did not show human to human transmission.
A week after this, it crossed the boundaries of China and the first case was reported outside of China in Thailand. On January 14, WHO announced a limited human to human transmission of this virus. Finally, it was on March 11, 2020 that WHO declared it as a pandemic. From the detection of the first few cases to its culmination into a global pandemic, the possible failures in handling and the resulting socio-economic cost (impact) to human life have been the subject of relentless discussion.