Coronavirus + Pollution = Death + Disease in Delhi

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi
Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi

Coronavirus + Pollution = Death + Disease in Delhi

While Kejriwal has no interest in containing pollution or coronavirus and the healthcare system has completely collapsed, the disease will spread rapidly and many more people are expected to die.

By Rakesh Raman

India’s capital New Delhi continues to be the most polluted national capital in the world. Now, the pollution – which has reached alarming levels – is exacerbating the Covid-19 lethality in Delhi, which is already among the worst affected cities of India.

Leading doctors in Delhi are concerned about a sudden jump in the respiratory problems among the local residents – which are increasing health complications for Covid patients.

Doctors from five different Delhi hospitals told Reuters that they have received twice the number of patients with respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis in a two weeks’ period, ending October 22.

As dust and air pollution levels rise sharply in Delhi during the winter season every year, it becomes difficult to breathe for residents during the October-February period. Government data reviewed by Reuters shows that air quality this October has been worse than in the same month in 2019 and 2018.

A pulmonologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the city which has reported more than 340,000 coronavirus cases told Reuters that pollutants have an inflammatory effect on the lungs and so does Covid-19.

A new study reveals a correlation between exposure to air pollution and Covid-19 mortality. It says that a small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in coronavirus (Covid-19) death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality.

The study – done by the researchers of the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA – underscores the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

The study found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. It adds that the majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for Covid-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution.

As a result, the doctors in Delhi have to test all those patients for Covid-19 who have respiratory issues. The pollution in Delhi was controlled during the lockdown period. But Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal – who is a pathological liar – lifted lockdown restrictions recklessly and downplayed the effect of coronavirus.

After the pollution outbreak in October, Kejriwal is again issuing misleading statements to understate the effects of pollution on the increasing number of Covid cases in the city.

Although with wrong reporting, Delhi is at No. 7 in the list of worst-affected Indian states, the national capital has the most number of infections as percentage of population. As of today (October 22), Delhi with an official population of just 20 million (2 crore) has 340,000 cases. In other words, even with under-reported data, the Covid devastation is maximum in Delhi with 1.7% people infected.

The situation is, in fact, worse in Delhi, as the details of the second serological survey or sero survey released on August 20 in the capital confirmed that nearly one-third of Delhi’s 20 million population or nearly 60 lakh (6 million) people have been exposed to Covid-19.

Since Kejriwal is an incompetent politician, he has completely failed to enforce laws that are required to contain the Covid contagion. Moreover, it is believed that Kejriwal government is opening the commercial establishments desperately amid the pandemic because in the opened economy there are more opportunities of corruption for Delhi bureaucrats and politicians in his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

While Kejriwal has no interest in containing pollution or coronavirus and the healthcare system has completely collapsed, the disease will spread rapidly and many more people are expected to die in Delhi.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman