Bihar, too, is increasingly at risk of a fresh coronavirus outbreak, with safety protocol being reportedly violated during election rallies
Even as the coronavirus spread slows down in most parts of the country, West Bengal is witnessing a pick-up in cases ahead of Durga Puja festivities. The state added over 4,000 new active cases this week, the most in the country. Neighbouring Bihar, too, is increasingly at risk, with the election campaign heating up and cases starting to rise again.
The festival risk in West Bengal has prompted the Calcutta High Court to limit gatherings at puja pandals.
In Bihar, the Election Commission warned political parties against the violation of safety protocol during rallies. In an address to the nation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, cautioned Indians against complacency at a time when the overall situation appears to be improving.
India has 715,812 active cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday morning, shows data from the Union health ministry. This is a 10% drop since last week. The number has been declining for a month.
Among the 10 states with the most active cases, the toll increased the most in Chhattisgarh (19%) in the past seven days. The rate was 16% in Kerala, and 8% in West Bengal. Bihar became the 18th state to cross 1,000 deaths, and West Bengal (6,244) now has the sixth highest toll after surpassing Delhi. The pace of increase in deaths has slowed across most states.
With this, India has 116,616 covid-related deaths as of Thursday.
As many as 25 states and union territories have fewer active cases now than they had a week ago. A decline in active cases suggests that more patients are recovering than are testing positive for the virus. Apart from West Bengal, Delhi, and Bihar, active cases also rose in Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland. The northeast still has rising active cases because the infections began spreading there much later than the rest of the country.
District-wise data shows that despite patients recovering, Kerala still has some of the biggest hotspots in the country. All 14 districts in the southern state saw confirmed cases jump over 10% within a week, data from howindialives.com shows. The state’s second wave of infections, which came around the Onam festival two months ago, has yet to wane.
Just four states now have less than 80% recovery rate, or the share of patients who have been discharged. Three of these are in the northeast—Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Manipur. At 74%, Kerala has the lowest recovery rate. Chhattisgarh, another recent hotspot, stands at 84%.
Among the 279 districts with at least 5,000 cases so far, the biggest weekly growth was reported by Thrissur (27%) and Kozhikode (23%) in Kerala and Korba (26%) in Chhattisgarh, the howindialives.com data showed.
Deaths rose the most in Durg (36%) in Chhattisgarh, Dehradun (34%) in Uttarakhand, and Wardha (24%) in Maharashtra. All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages to minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.
Among the 10 states with the most active cases, Delhi and Kerala have conducted the most tests per million population over the last two weeks, and West Bengal and Maharashtra the fewest, data from covid19india.org showed. The positivity rate, or the likelihood of a virus test turning out to be positive, has risen in Kerala and West Bengal, but has declined in all other major states.
India’s total count of coronavirus patients has risen to 7,706,946 as of Thursday morning. The country accounted for 17% of the 2.8 million cases, and 15% of the nearly 40,000 deaths reported globally over the last week—both being the highest in the world.
Several European countries, where the situation had improved earlier, are once again contributing a significant chunk of the global case-load. The global coronavirus case count has crossed 41 million, including 1.1 million deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University showed.
Meanwhile, even though a vaccine seems some time away, governments across the world are preparing for ways to make sure that it can reach everyone whenever it comes. Modi assured Indians of the same in his address. Earlier this week, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mark Suzman told PTI in an interview that “a very large portion" of coronavirus vaccines were likely to be manufactured in India through its private sector.
Until those vaccines come, no flattened curve is enough, as Europe has shown. To sustain the current slowdown in the virus spread, India has to see off some of its biggest festivals of the year with social distancing. The challenge is tough, but not impossible to achieve.