A report prepared by the National Centre for Disease Control has warned that Delhi should prepare for an increase of 15,000 daily coronavirus cases during the winter season, PTI reported on Thursday. The government institute said that festive gatherings, seasonal illnesses and influx of patients from outside would add to the city’s tally.

The report was prepared under the guidance of an expert group headed by NITI Aayog member VK Paul. Last month, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had asked to prepare a revised plan to fight the pandemic.

The report said that respiratory illnesses become more serious in winter months. It added that patients experiencing severe symptoms may come to Delhi from other places in “large numbers”.

“Therefore, it is recommended that Delhi should prepare for a daily surge of 15,000 positive cases and make arrangements for inpatient admissions of patients with moderate and severe disease roughly amounting to 20% of this surge,” the report said, according to the news agency.

The report also suggested that the celebration of upcoming festivals be limited. “Coming festival pose a huge challenge in the pandemic control,” it said. “It has been seen that Onam in Kerala and Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra escalated the pandemic seriously. This must not be allowed to happen in Delhi.”

“Our emerging gains in reduction in cases will be reversed because of these festivities and the rush in markets /localities. Such a setback that is potentially avoidable will dent the image of the capital and the country. It is very important to take a rational view to make these events very low key, and essentially centred around family celebration. Next three months are crucial in our battle against the coronavirus.”

— National Centre for Disease Control report

The report suggested that the Delhi government speak to religious leaders and opinion makers to help build consensus about low-key festive celebrations.

The National Centre for Disease Control also recommended the optimisation of contact-tracing and testing strategies. “The contact tracing could be restricted to forward contact tracing only,” the report stated, according to Hindustan Times. “Immediate family contacts, neighbourhood contacts and close workplace contacts, should be traced and tested as per Indian Council of Medical Research.”

It also suggested increasing testing capacity district-wise. “Criteria for scaling up of testing should be based on positivity in each district (preferably ward) vis-à-vis the total number of samples tested,” it said.”

A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment pushes an oxygen cylinder for a patient suffering from Covid-19 at a hospital in Delhi. | Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

The document also suggested a revision in the containment zone strategy in the Capital. “The formation of new containment zones could be restricted only for highly dense localities such as resettlement colonies and JJ clusters /slums areas,” the report said, according to the newspaper “For planned colonies, big apartments, RWA [resident welfare association]-governed localities, the strategy of micro containment zones or home isolation may be continued.”

It recommended another sero survey in the Capital. “After review of sero-survey by NCDC in July and subsequent survey by the Delhi government in August and September, it will be appropriate that next sero-survey to be conducted after a reasonable interval and can be tentatively planned during 1st week of November, 2020,” the report said, according to PTI.

The Delhi government is likely to come up with a revised strategy to combat the pandemic after the report, according to The Hindu. Delhi has reported more than 3 lakh coronaviru cases and 5,635 deaths so far, according to the government data.