Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat—each of which had imposed night curfews in some districts—have now reported a slowdown in the virus spread. Fewer new infections were recorded this week than the previous week in these states.
Active cases, too, were back in the decline mode after surging in end-November. They fell 20% in Rajasthan and 8% in Madhya Pradesh over the past week, Union health ministry data on Thursday morning showed. The turnaround is significant: this means that recovering patients again outnumber the new patients. Gujarat, which saw a marginal decline in active cases, has extended the night curfew in Ahmedabad till further notice.
All weekly trends are based on seven-day rolling averages to minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.
However, Maharashtra is back to recording the highest number of deaths in the country. The state’s death count rose 1.4%, contributing nearly one-fifth of all covid-related fatalities in India this week. But the biggest spike (9%) came from Kerala, followed by Haryana (8%) and Delhi (6%).
With this, the total death toll in India has reached 141,772 as of Thursday.
Delhi, which had been facing a severe third wave since late October, seems to have come off the peak again without imposing any major curbs. Active cases fell 29% in the past week. The city still reported 21,251 new infections during the period, but this is no longer the highest in India, and is less than half of the level two weeks ago.
The maximum fresh cases came from Kerala and Maharashtra for the second straight week. They together made up nearly 29% of the 232,407 new cases India has confirmed since last Friday.
Despite state-level worries, the overall national picture continues to remain optimistic. India’s total number of confirmed cases is now 9,767,371, with the daily increments now down to July levels.
Among all 331 districts with over 5,000 confirmed cases so far, Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla (19%) reported the worst spike for the second straight week, data from howindialives.com shows. Three other districts of Himachal Pradesh also featured at the top, and each reported a massive jump this week: 17% in Kangra, 13% in Mandi, and 10% in Solan. Wayanad and Idukki in Kerala also reported a jump of more than 10% within a week.
In deaths, the biggest spike was recorded by Kottayam in Kerala (18%), followed by Shimla (17%) and Kangra (15%).
In the last fortnight, the positivity rate has increased marginally in Kerala and Rajasthan, data from covid19india.org showed. Delhi’s improving situation reflects in its decline in positivity rate, which dropped to 6% over the last two weeks. Consistently high testing in the national capital has helped tame the outbreak.
Kerala’s testing rate is also high, but an increase in positivity shows even that may not be enough. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal have the lowest testing rates.
Globally, the United States continues to add the biggest chunk of new coronavirus cases: nearly 33% of all cases in the last one week. Brazil and India contributed 7% and 5% respectively. India’s share has improved significantly since September, when it was reporting nearly one-third of all the world’s daily cases.
India reported just 4% of all deaths recorded globally in the last seven days. A consistent slowdown has helped the country reduce its cumulative share from nearly 10.5% two months ago to 9% now.
The global case count has crossed 68 million, including 1.6 million deaths, data from the Johns Hopkins University showed.
Meanwhile, news of the much-awaited vaccine approvals is trickling in fast now. After the UK, it was the turn of the US, Canada and Russia this week. The UK also started inoculating high-priority citizens with the jab. Pfizer’s Indian arm has applied for emergency use approval in India as well. So has Serum Institute of India, raising hopes for some hopeful news from India too.
With a sustained slowdown in India’s case-load, and without any remarkable spike after Diwali, the stage is set for a vaccine intervention. But for such a large country, it is also crucial that vaccine approvals are not hastened up. As experts the world over have said, the measures already in place—social distancing and mask use—will be the best ways to keep the virus at bay even after a vaccine arrives. The same will be true for India.