With increasing pollution levels in Gurugram and Noida, coronavirus cases have also been on the rise. Areas in Gurugram, Faridabad, Rohtak, and Bhiwani have seen a rise of 10 to 20 percent rise in the daily number of COVID-19 cases since the air quality started deteriorating in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
On Wednesday, the Health Ministry admitted that the Covid-pollution connect applied not only to Delhi but to NCR as well.
Dr. VK Paul, a NITI Aayog Member, said: “The virus does not respect geographies. This is a big urban conglomerate so what is happening is in a continuum. There is no need to differentiate. It is the same ecosystem, the same environment, and the same behavior. It shows that in this conglomerate, the situation is the same everywhere and the virus is still winning.”
The air quality deteriorated but remained “very poor” in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad while it continued to stay “poor” in Gurugram on Wednesday.
For the last three days, Gurugram has been recording nearly 500 Covid cases daily as compared to the average of 350 in October and the administration is expecting a further rise. In Gurugram, the daily positivity rate is at 13 percent while the national average is about 3 percent which means that out of every 100 people being tested, there are three testings positive in India on an average while in Gurugram it is 13.
On Wednesday, the Gurugram administration issued a special festival season advisory.
According to the guidelines, “pooja or any festivity” is prohibited in containment zones, there should be staggered timings and restricted entry for all events in non-containment zones and there should be mandatory use of masks. The advisory also “strictly” advised people above the age of 60 with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 to “stay at home”.
However, markets across Gurugram have not been following the Covid guidelines. In the vegetable market, several shopkeepers were seen without masks in recent days.
Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram Amit Khatri said: “We are running awareness drives to promote Covid-appropriate behavior. We have also tied up with RWAs regarding the same. Apart from that our police teams and municipal teams will also be going around marketplaces to ensure enforcement of all Covid rules.”
He said testing numbers have also been kept high to keep the spread of the disease in check. “We are conducting 3,000-3,500 tests daily and the majority of these have been the RT-PCR gold standard tests. That is what we plan to keep up. The per capita testing numbers have also been high.”
In Noida too, a rise in coronavirus cases is expected, according to officials. Alok Kumar, Principal Secretary of Health for Uttar Pradesh, on Monday said administrations of districts adjoining Delhi have been asked to strictly comply with Covid norms.
However, Noida’s popular Sector 18 Atta market saw a high footfall of people due to the upcoming festival season, and several people were seen without masks while many failed to follow any social distancing guidelines.
According to the Noida administration, during the last peak in April, 42 percent of the cases in Noida had contacts in Delhi. Private and government hospitals in Noida have been asked to increase the number of beds in ICUs.
The Gautam Buddh Nagar district recorded its biggest single-day spike of 331 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, pushing the district’s infection tally to 18,679, official data showed.
According to Central Pollution Control Board data on Wednesday, PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR stood at 448 micrograms per cubic meter at 7 pm, the highest in this season so far. PM10 level below 100 ug/m3 is considered safe in India. Ghaziabad and Greater Noida also recorded “severe” levels of air pollution.
Weather officials said the situation is likely to worsen as similar weather conditions are expected over the next two days.