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Rise in home isolation cases again; pollution, festive season could be factors, say experts

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New Delhi, Oct 20 (PTI) The number of COVID-19 patients under home isolation in Delhi has steadily increased by a margin of 1,804 in the last six days, with experts saying that opening of cinema halls, pollution and greater public activity in the festive season could be the possible factors behind it.

On October 18, the number of people under home quarantine stood at 13,742 with 2,770 containment zones in the city. On Monday, the count rose to 14,164 and 2782 respectively, according to official data.

The national capital recorded 31 COVID-19 fatalities on Monday, taking the death toll to 6,040, while 2,154 fresh cases took the infection tally to over 3.33 lakh.

After showing a gradual decline since September 22, except on two days, the number of patients under home quarantine had again risen on October 1, the count being 15,899.

However, from October 2-13 the cases of home isolation gradually dipped, except on two days when it registered a minimal rise. On October 2 the count was 15,852, which came down to 12,176 on October 13, as per official data.

But the count of home isolation cases rose again the next day to 12,360 and it has steadily increased per day since then. On October 19, it stood at 14,164, a rise of 1,804 compared to the number of cases on October 14.

Medical experts feel greater increase in public activities due to the festive season and opening of cinema halls along with deteriorating air quality could be the possible factors behind rise in home isolation cases.

'Theatres have opened and people are going to markets for festival shopping, this means more public activity and thus greater chance of contracting the infection. Besides, pollution is an added factor,' Medical Director, LNJP Hospital, Suresh Kumar, told PTI.

People with asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other respiratory ailments are more susceptible to suffer fall in their oxygen concentration level and thus more prone to contract the infection from someone else, symptomatic or asymptomatic, he said.

According to doctors, respiratory illnesses like viral influenza increase with a spike in pollution levels as poor air quality leads to inflammation in the lungs making it more vulnerable for the virus to penetrate.

'We would advise patients with respiratory illnesses to stay indoors as much as possible. Also, appeal to youth to not assume everything is normal again just because the economy is getting eased. Mask should be worn all the time while being outdoor and social distancing norms should be followed,' said a senior doctor of a government hospital.

On September 21, the number of home isolation cases had increased to 19,213 after steady ascent in its count since the last week of August.

However, it fell by a margin of 749 on September 22 to 18,464, registering a significant fall after a long time.

It fell further down to 17,834 the next day when the number of containment zones stood at 1,987.

The containment zone count had crossed the 2,000-mark on September 24 (2,059) and the home isolation cases too had showed a marginal rise (17,995). On September 25 also it slightly rose to 18,096.

However, the cases of home isolation fell gradually for five consecutive days from September 26-30.

The Delhi government had been laying a lot of emphasis on home isolation, especially for asymptomatic patients, as part of its COVID-19 management strategy in the past several months.

Recently, it was decided to not stick cautionary posters on the walls of houses of patients who are under home isolation. PTI KND KJ