COVID everywhere in Delhi NCR: 45% Delhi NCR households currently have 1 or more family members unwell
- ● Community feedback indicates given infectious nature of COVID variant and isolation and COVID norms not being followed, in majority cases most or entire family is unwell
- ● Most taking symptomatic treatment like paracetamol, cough syrup, steam inhalation, warm fluids
April 19, 2023, New Delhi: Though daily case loads of COVID don’t matter any more as majority of the people with COVID like symptoms are avoiding testing, what matters is the test positivity rate which indicates how prevalent is the COVID virus. At a national level, India has a COVID test positivity rate of slightly above 8% but Delhi is reporting a test positivity rate of over 32%, a rate not seen in any of the 3 waves of COVID in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
To understand the prevalence of the COVID virus, whose variant XBB.1.16 or Arcturus is dominant in Delhi currently and has nearly 120 patients in ICU with 116 needing oxygen, LocalCircles conducted a ground up survey. The survey attempted to understand at a family level, what percentage of the families currently have one or more members down with COVID like symptoms and what exactly are they doing to get better. The survey received over 19,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women.
45% of Delhi NCR households surveyed indicated that one or more individuals were currently having COVID/ flu/viral fever symptoms
The first survey question asked respondents “How many individuals do you have in your household in Delhi NCR who currently have one or more COVID/flu/viral fever symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, headache, joint pain, body ache, respiratory issues, pink eye, etc.” This query received 9,793 responses with 45% of Delhi NCR households surveyed indicating that one or more individuals were currently having COVID/ flu/ viral fever symptoms. The data shows that while 55% of households surveyed have no one unwell, 18% have four or more individuals unwell; another 18% have 2-3 individuals unwell; and 9% have one individuals unwell with symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, headache, joint pain, body ache, respiratory issues, pink eye, etc. This indicates that of the 45% of the households who have one or more unwell, in 36% of the 45%, it is 2-3 individuals or 4 or higher numbers that are unwell. This validates the infectious nature of the XBB.1.16 where the virus isn’t staying limited to one individual in the family and is impacting multiple members.
50% of those unwell indicated they are taking paracetamol; 38% using cough syrup; 38% taking home remedies like warm fluids with herbs, spices, tea, etc.
The follow-on question in the survey asked respondents “What all medication/ remedies are you or your family members taking?” Some among the 10,098 respondents indicated more than one option in the survey. The largest group of 50% indicated taking paracetamol; 38% indicated also using cough syrup; 38% indicated consuming home remedies like warm fluids with herbs, spices, tea, etc.; 25% said they are using ointments for cold / congestion; 25% are taking anti-allergy tablets; 25% are taking steam inhalation; 38% other said they were taking Ayush medicines/remedies and 13% confirmed taking antibiotics. The Government and health experts have been warning not to take antibiotics for COVID unless advised by a doctor.
In summary, with a large majority not testing in Delhi NCR and city still reporting COVID test positivity rates of over 32%, every other household presently has one or more members down with COVID. This is evident in the first finding of the survey where 45% respondents have confirmed that 1 or more in their household has COIVD with 80% of those confirming saying its 2-4 or more members having it validating the infectious nature of the currently dominant COVID variant XBB.1.16. What is different this time around is that precautions like masking and social distancing as well as quarantine norms are not being followed by the majority. In most cases, people are showing up at their workplaces or schools/colleges and using public transport with the symptoms, infecting others in hordes. To cope up with the illness the majority are taking symptomatic treatment and taking paracetamol, taking warm fluids, cough syrups and ointments for congestion.
Majority of the Delhi NCR residents are likely on their 2nd or 3rd infection and the big question in the mind of some public health experts is whether COVID will become endemic like flu or whether this is a blood vessel disease likely to cause medium to long term health conditions in some with each subsequent infection. If it is the latter, we are likely looking at a long-term health pandemic where prevention should be the only strategy.
The survey received over 19,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.