Delhi on Sunday recorded its highest single-day increase in cases with 7,745 new infections in 24 hours, PTI reported. With this, the national Capital’s tally rose to 4,38,529, including 41,857 active cases and 6,989 deaths.

This was the second time the daily record of coronavirus cases in Delhi breached the 7,000-mark – the first was on November 6, with 7,178 cases. On Saturday, Delhi had reported 79 deaths, the highest in over four months.

Last week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that the rise in Covid-19 cases in the Capital can be called the third wave of infections. “We are monitoring the situation, and will take all necessary actions,” he had said.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain too claimed the Capital has hit the peak of the third wave of Covid-19, and the number of cases suggests “it has been the worst so far”, according to PTI. The minister attributed the increase in the number of cases to aggressive testing and contact tracing.

“The government has increased the number of beds for Covid-19 patients in city hospitals but there is no plan to rope in hotels and banquet halls,” he said on Sunday. Jain, however, added that laxity on the part of citizens has been a major reason behind the surge in cases.

The sharp surge in infections came amid the festive season and at a time when pollution levels in the city are soaring.

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

Air quality in the National Capital Region, or NCR has also been a matter of concern. Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning off stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and traffic fumes in the city. Firecrackers ignited for Diwali adds to the problem.

This year’s haze comes as the Capital battles a new surge in coronavirus infections, and health experts fear that people with chronic medical conditions could become more vulnerable to the disease. On Friday, the health ministry informed a parliamentary committee that air pollution may lead to faster spread of the coronavirus infection, as it causes coughing and sneezing

Last month, the Indian Council of Medical Research had also said, citing international studies, that air pollution levels can lead to rise in coronavirus mortality.