The national capital has been witnessing an uptick in coronavirus infections (Covid-19) for the past couple of days. It today recorded 256 new Covid cases ~ the highest this month so far ~ while one fresh death pushed its virus toll to 10,906, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin.

This was the third successive day when daily cases count hit the 200-mark or rose further.

Yesterday, 220 Covid cases were registered while the count stood at 200 on Wednesday. On all preceding days, spanning February 1-23, the count of daily cases had been recorded in the city below 200.

Today’s fresh cases were identified following 62,768 tests conducted the previous day, the health bulletin said. The positivity rate rose to 0.41 per cent.

The caseload mounted to 6,38,849. The active cases tally rose to 1,231 from 1,169 the previous day, the bulletin stated.

The number of people under home isolation rose to 574 from yesterday’s 536. Delhi had recorded 94 Covid cases on 16 February — the lowest in over nine months. In the wake of an uptick in cases again, a number of Delhi’s doctors today warned that the cases could go up in the coming months and urged people to continue to wear masks and follow Covid safety norms.

Many doctors at leading healthcare facilities here cautioned that the rise was “alarming” with an “upsurge” in the number of patients going there in the last couple of days, after the cases had shown a downward spiral for nearly six weeks.

Health experts and doctors attributed this “sudden rise” to complacency in people and their not following Covid-appropriate behaviour and “assuming all is well now”. Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospital, said he “wasn’t surprised” to see the rise in daily cases as so many people have thrown caution to the wind, attending parties and big social gatherings, with many of them not even wearing masks, let alone maintaining social distancing.

“The coronavirus behaviour pattern seen in the West and elsewhere tends to get seen in India, a month later, as it happened in reporting of the first case in Kerala and so on and so forth. So, if the US and UK are seeing a surge again, we should have become more watchful and not complacent. The next two months will be even more critical and I would not be surprised if the cases show a much higher upward trend,” he said.

Chatterjee, himself a Covid survivor, lamented that people are attending birthday parties, marriages and house warming functions, with very few people wearing masks or not wearing them properly and not adhering to safety norms needed to check the spread of the virus that has a “mutant tendency” as seen in the UK.

Dr Richa Sareen, pulmonology and critical care consultant at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, echoed Chatterjee’s apprehensions.

“The surge in the last three days is alarming. From 94 cases earlier this month, it has gone up to 220 reported yesterday. At our hospital, the number of patients showing up with Covid-like symptoms or making calls to enquire after exhibiting the symptoms, has gone up. These patients had a travel history, or had just attended a marriage function or other social gathering,” she said.

The senior doctor warned that cases will spiral faster if people continue to show complacency in their behaviour and stop taking precautions.

“Travel restrictions are not there, malls and markets are open, and public transport is operational since the successive unlocks, and vaccination started in January, so many people are assuming that now all is well. And several family members and friends are meeting in a group without following Covid-appropriate behaviour. So, cases are rising,” Sareen said.

The Fortis hospital doctor underlined that the “second major wave” of the pandemic is being seen in the US and UK, and Indian cities should be more watchful, particulary Delhi, after rise in case being reported in Maharashtra and Kerala. Sareen also blamed the lack of adherence to Covid safety norms on travellers, social media influencers, bloggers, posting photos and videos of their trips and shoots, many of them without masks, lulling their friends and followers into a “false sense of safety”.

“These big social media influencers should show some responsibility as their acts are followed by others. Also, many people these days are travelling and posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram, from Varanasi and Goa, seen without any mask on. This affects the psyche of others and they tend to feel the situation is normal again, while it is not. We need to be more cautious and behave more responsibly if we have to combat this pandemic effectively in the long run,” she said.

The Delhi government had recently said that it had “firmly fought the war against coronavirus”.

While the numbers of death cases have largely remained low in the past several weeks, the daily cases, active cases, home isolation cases, and positivity rate have shown an upward trend in the last few days.

(With PTI inputs)