Coronavirus: How Delhi 'wasted' lockdown to become India's biggest hotspot

With more than 77,000 cases of Covid-19, India’s capital, Delhi has become the country’s biggest hotspot. The BBC's Aparna Alluri explains how this appears to be an opportunity missed.


The city administration appears to have squandered the opportunity afforded by a stringent nationwide lockdown that lasted more than two months.

Lax contact tracing, excessive bureaucracy, poor or no co-ordination with private health services and political wrangles have all led to a surge in numbers.

Smaller Indian cities appear to have done a far better job than the capital, the seat of India’s federal government. The southern city of Bangalore has been lauded for its contact-tracing efforts which have contained the infection, and Chennai (formerly Madras) has had relatively few deaths despite a surge in cases.

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But much like the financial capital Mumbai which has also been hit hard by the virus, Delhi has been overrun with cases and its public hospitals, some of the best and biggest and best in the country, are struggling.

This is despite the fact that Delhi is governed by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won a thumping majority earlier this year on the back of strong public services, including healthcare.

So, what went wrong?

Not enough testing and tracing

Delhi’s caseload has risen sharply since the beginning of June - more than 50,000 of its Covid-19 cases were confirmed this month alone. One reason could be ramped-up testing with newly approved antigen kits - a rapid diagnostic test that gives results in as little as a half hour.

“Testing is not a panacea,” K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public health Foundation of India and member of the national Covid-19 taskforce, told the BBC.