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ANI Photo
ANI Photo

Chhattisgarh emerges as fastest-growing coronavirus hotspot

Bilaspur and Rajnandgaon districts of the state saw their case-load rise more than 50% each within the last week

In a first during the coronavirus pandemic, India reported over 1 million active cases of the infection on Thursday. Chhattisgarh has been the fastest-growing hotspot of late, even as its testing rate remains much lower than other states. Kerala and Delhi also contributed significantly to this week’s case-load.

Maharashtra, where the coronavirus had slowed down last month, is again reporting a faster spread. In absolute numbers, the state reported nearly half of all active cases added in India in the last seven days.

Meanwhile, the rise in deaths is also picking up again in India, reflecting the trend of a fresh spike in virus cases since early September. Typically, it takes a few weeks for a spurt in infections to result in a similar rise in deaths. India now has 83,198 covid-related deaths as of Thursday morning, after an 11% weekly jump, latest data from the health ministry showed.

The trajectories of rise in deaths became steeper in four major states: Assam, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Haryana. While Assam’s toll crossed 500, Kerala is now very close to that mark.

Maharashtra’s toll crossed 30,000, and Andhra Pradesh went past Delhi this week. Punjab has been steady, and became the ninth state to cross 2,500 deaths.

As many as 21 states have more than 10,000 active cases now, but all except Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand have crossed the 70% mark in recovery rate—the share of patients who have been discharged. Fewer than half of the patients in Chhattisgarh have recovered. This shows most of the state’s case-load has come in recent weeks.

With a 41% weekly growth, the state reported the second worst jump in active cases, after Jammu and Kashmir (63%). All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages, which minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.

The total number of active cases now stands at 1,009,976, while 4,025,079 patients have been discharged. India reported a 12% growth in the number of active cases over the past week, a marginal slowdown. However, this is much higher than the 5% weekly growth observed in late August.

The five states with the most deaths—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi—have a 68% share in the national death count. Among the states and Union territories with at least 200 deaths, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, and Assam observed the biggest jumps in their toll this week.

After affecting the largest urban centres and metro cities the most in its initial months, the virus has picked up in smaller towns and rural areas now. Among the 195 districts with at least 5,000 confirmed cases so far, the biggest percentage spikes over the last seven days were reported by Bilaspur (60%) and Rajnandgaon (54%) in Chhattisgarh, and Jammu (55%) in Jammu and Kashmir, data compiled by howindialives.com showed.

This is a matter of worry because most parts of rural India, particularly in poorer states, do not match the cities in their healthcare systems.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru surpassed Mumbai in the total number of cases.

Right since the beginning of the pandemic, data has shown that states’ testing strategies can influence the numbers they report. Among the top 10 states, Delhi and Telangana have conducted the most tests per million population over the last fortnight, and Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh the fewest, data from covid19india.org showed.

India’s total count of coronavirus patients has risen to 5,118,253 as of Thursday morning. The country accounted for 33% of the 2 million cases added globally over the last seven days. This is the highest share by far among all countries. The United States and Brazil had less than 14% share each, data from the Johns Hopkins University showed.

After rising steadily, India’s share in the cumulative death count is now close to 9%. In just the last seven days, the country accounted for 22% of nearly 37,000 deaths recorded globally, a far greater share than both the US and Brazil. Worryingly, the trajectory of deaths is still rising fast. It could worsen further, given the recent spike in cases across India.

Globally, the coronavirus case count has crossed 29.8 million, including over 940,000 deaths and nearly 20.3 million recoveries (67%), data from Johns Hopkins University showed.

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