A return of the coronavirus in Europe has spooked global markets. Even as India recovers, some regions are at a similar risk, including the national capital
Several parts of Europe are under threat of fresh lockdowns as the dreaded “second wave" of the coronavirus sweeps through the continent. Markets globally are reacting in panic, with European stock futures touching a five-month low on Wednesday. Indian markets have also been jittery in the past few trading sessions as similar risks exist here too. After Kerala’s long struggle with a second outbreak, it is now Delhi’s turn to face what could be a "third wave".
The national capital, which recently became the worst-hit city in India, was one of the few regions in India that added active cases in the last seven days. An 8% surge in coronavirus cases comes at a time when the city is facing the annual pollution season. Global studies have suggested a link between pollution and increased virus infection rates. The festival of Diwali is days away, making containment even tougher.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said on Thursday it was possible the city was in its third wave. The second wave had lasted around six weeks, starting end-August.
Kerala has been able to improve its numbers in the past week, but reported more new cases (nearly 50,000) in the period than any other state. Even Maharashtra, the top hotspot throughout the pandemic, was behind, for the first time. The outbreak is not subsiding in West Bengal either, with a 9% jump in confirmed cases over the week.
But overall, India has reported fewer than 60,000 cases and 1,000 deaths for 11 days. As of Thursday, the country still has 603,687 active cases, a 15% drop since last week, shows data from the Union health ministry.
Among the states with more than 1,000 covid-related deaths, the toll increased the most in Chhattisgarh (21%) in the past seven days. The rate was 15% in Kerala, and 10% in Uttarakhand, which became the 19th state to cross 1,000 deaths. The pace of increase in deaths has slowed across most states.
With this, India has 120,527 covid-related deaths as of Thursday.
As many as 26 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. Active cases increased the most in Delhi (5,261), West Bengal (1,532), and Haryana (827). Some states in the northeast still have rising active cases, and hence a low recovery rate, because the infections began spreading there much later than the rest of the country.
All states now have a more than 75% recovery rate, or the share of patients who have been discharged. Kerala and Manipur are at the bottom of this list.
District-wise data shows that despite patients recovering, Kerala has some of the biggest hotspots in the country. Twelve of the 14 districts in the southern state saw confirmed cases jump over 10% within a week, data from howindialives.com shows. Thrissur (22%) and Alappuzha (18%), along with Korba (20%) in Chhattisgarh, reported the biggest spikes. Only the 287 districts with at least 5,000 cases so far were considered.
Deaths rose the most in Durg (74%) in Chhattisgarh, Thrissur (30%) in Kerala, and Wardha (21%) 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, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh but has declined in all other major states.
India’s total count of coronavirus patients has risen to 8,040,203 as of Thursday morning. For the first time since August, it was the United States, not India, that reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a week. The US reported 16% of all new cases and 13% of new deaths. The figures for India were 10% and 9%.
The global coronavirus case count has crossed 44 million, including 1.17 million deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University showed.
The slowdown in the pandemic in India has now lasted around a month and a half. This has given a push to public mobility across the country and the economy is recovering. The fear in Europe after the latest outbreak is natural as the lockdowns had ravaged economies worldwide. And so, India cannot take the slowdown for granted either, with a major festival due in a few weeks, and one of the most populous states in the midst of a hard-fought election.