New Delhi:

Reduced fear of COVID-19 among the public coupled with festivities and heavy rains led to lesser number of people coming for tests, experts on Wednesday said in view of fluctuating figures in daily coronavirus tests in Delhi in August.

Their comments come after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday warned against complacency and urged people to get themselves tested if they observe coronavirus symptoms while asserting that COVID-19 tests in Delhi will be doubled to 40,000 per day within a week.

According to the data, the number of tests in Delhi witnessed a decline in August as compared to July. The authorities conducted over 2.58 lakh COVID-19 tests in Delhi between August 1 and 15, whereas the figure stood at over 3.13 lakh in the same period in July, according to data.

Between July 16 and 31, over 2.96 lakh tests were conducted in Delhi. Between August 16 and August 25, the total number of tests stood at over 1.71 lakh while the figure between July 16 and July 25 stood over 1.92 lakh.

Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said at present, 20,000 tests are being conducted per day in the city.

He also warned people against complacency and said that more and more people should get themselves tested if they observe coronavirus symptoms.

"Due to this overconfidence, some people think they will recover even after they have symptoms. They do not realise that if they do not get tested in time, they end up infecting many people around them eventually. People can avail of testing for free in any government hospital or government dispensaries," he said.

He asked people to get themselves tested, wear masks, and practice social distancing. During his briefing on Wednesday, Kejriwal said 1,693 coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

Delhi on Tuesday recorded 1,544 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the city's tally to over 1.64 lakh cases, while the death count from the disease mounted to 4,330.

August 1 saw over 18,000 tests being conducted, while the figures on subsequent days — August 2 (12,730), August 3 (10,133) and August 4 (9,295) were significantly lower than the average number of tests being conducted on a daily basis, which is 20,000.

The numbers picked up later and on August 5 when over 16,000 tests were done. Between August 6 and August 9, the number of tests exceeded 20,000 per day with August 8 seeing 24,592 tests. Testing was ramped up in Delhi in the month of June with the government introducing rapid antigen tests from June 18.

Between July 1 and July 12, the national capital saw over 9,000 RT-PCR tests being conducted daily with July 6 and July 7 being the only two days when the number of RT-PCR tests was below the 9,000-mark.

In fact, on July 2, the number of RT-PCR tests (10,978) exceeded the number of rapid antigen tests.

Dr. Manoj Sharma, Senior Consultant, Medicine and Incharge at Medeor Hospital Qutab Institutional Area, said the hospital witnessed lesser footfall of patients for coronavirus tests on some days due to the incessant rains which led to flooding in some areas and also on days when there were festivals or holidays like Independence Day, Janmasthami among others.

"Earlier, there was a lot of panic and even for minor symptoms people were coming to hospitals. But now, they know that if they have minor symptoms, they think they will recover. There is some taboo attached to it. They think that authorities will put up sticker outside their home and their neighbours will come to know," he opined.

Dr Alpana Razdaan, Lab Head, Genestrings Lab, concurred with Sharma, and said the number of patients coming for tests has gone down.

Sharing numbers, she said earlier, the number of patients was 350 a day but now it has come down to 170 a day. "The fear has reduced among people and those with mild symptoms feel they will recover. People will severe symptoms only come for tests," she said.

She also said they are not getting samples from government for testing. She said until and unless the government makes something mandatory as 'Unlock' is happening, people will not come forward for testing.

Desh Deepak, the nodal officer for COVID-19 at RML Hospital said there is a fluctuation in the number of testing figures which is because people do not turn up in large number on holidays.

"For instance, lesser number of people got themselves tested on Rakshabandhan, Independence Day, but the number is compensated the next day. We have been witnessing a slight increase in new cases in Delhi and that's because people are gradually returning from other states for work, the city is opening up," he added.

Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, president of Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, claimed the number of tests has been kept low deliberately.

The Delhi government has not done much to bring the situation under control, he alleged.

"It knows that more tests means more positive cases, so the whole strategy is to keep the figure of confirmed cases low. The government will need more testing kits and facilities if they decide to ramp up testings, which means more expenditure.

The administration knows that only around 5-6 per cent of the COVID-19 cases become severe, rest all recover on their own. So they do not want to make any extra effort to test, isolate and arrest the spread of the virus," he added.