November 16, 2020 at 7:42 AM EST
India’s capital is battling a surge in coronavirus cases just as pollution levels spike
By Joanna Slater, Niha Masih and Taniya Dutta
NEW DELHI — The Indian capital is battling both toxic air and a record surge in coronavirus cases. Doctors and scientists say the combination will have deadly consequences, as exposure to pollution increases the risk of severe respiratory illnesses. Air pollution also makes people more prone to infections, they say.
India has recorded more than 8.7 million coronavirus cases, second only to the United States. While fresh cases nationwide have fallen sharply since September, New Delhi is an exception to the trend.
The city is adding more than 7,000 cases a day, and that figure is expected to rise. More than 100 covid deaths were reported in New Delhi on Thursday, a record. Meanwhile, the number of open hospital beds equipped with ventilators is dwindling.
The fresh wave of cases comes as Delhiites have thronged markets and malls during India’s festival season. This weekend marked the advent of Diwali, a major Hindu holiday, and public heath experts fear that celebratory gatherings could spread the virus.