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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Coronavirus picks up in northeastern states, but south remains worst-hit

Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are still the biggest hotspots, but the pace of growth in cases and deaths has slowed down from earlier levels

The northeast is the latest region in India where the coronavirus has begun to pick up in the last few days. While Assam has the 10th highest number of active cases, states such as Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura have also seen new outbreaks in recent days. Their total case-load is a small fraction of that in the rest of India, but the four states together have recorded a 63% jump in active cases over the past week.

Meanwhile, in southern India, coronavirus cases and related deaths are still rising faster than most other states, but the pace has slowed down over the last week. The weekly growth rate of the death toll in Andhra Pradesh has come down to 42%, and Karnataka’s to 33%. Both states had witnessed much steeper spikes in fatalities last month.

Overall, India has 595,501 active cases as of Thursday morning, while 40,699 patients have died, latest data from the health ministry showed. The number of patients still under treatment comprises about one third of all coronavirus cases reported so far in India.

Karnataka has become the latest state to surpass the death toll of Gujarat, which was until May one of the biggest hotspots of the virus. Andhra Pradesh has become the eighth state to cross 1,600 deaths. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat have the highest tolls, with a 75% share in the national death count.

By now, the death trajectories of Delhi and Gujarat appear to have stabilized. Maharashtra’s trajectory, though not worsening, has been rising at a stable rate. Death tolls are rising rapidly in some other states. In the last seven days, the curve has become steeper for Bihar and Punjab, where the toll rose 31% and 37%, respectively, during the period.

The figure is around 22% for Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, both of which crossed 1,700 deaths this week. All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages, which minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.

Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have reported the biggest percentage jumps in deaths, while Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar led the surge in active cases in the last seven days.

Just three states—Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh—together account for half of all active cases in India. Andhra Pradesh has climbed to second in the list, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Delhi now has just 7% of its patients under treatment.

However, 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, Andhra Pradesh and Assam have conducted the most tests per million population over the last week, and West Bengal and Bihar the fewest, data collected by The Hindu showed.

In general, large cities continue to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. Five urban centres—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad—alone account for 29% of confirmed cases and 40% of deaths nationally. Fifteen top cities account for 38% of confirmed cases and 53% of covid-related deaths in India. Data for all cities have been aggregated from district-wise data compiled by howindialives.com, as of Wednesday evening.

Over the last week, Pune reported the highest number of new deaths, followed by Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. In percentage terms, Pune’s 25% spike was the biggest.

Of the nearly 300,000 active cases added globally over the last seven days, India accounted for nearly 22%—second only to the United States. The share in the cumulative death count is nearly 6% but it is rising steadily. In just the last seven days, the country accounted for 15% of the nearly 41,000 deaths recorded globally, the third highest share after the US and Brazil. The death toll is the fifth highest.

Worryingly, the trajectory of deaths is still rising at a fast pace. Unlike the curves of some other badly-hit countries, India’s trajectory has yet to peak or stabilize.

Active cases in India rose 19% and deaths 16% over this week—both slower than the previous week. But nearly 68%, or 13,28,336, of India’s coronavirus patients have now recovered, as compared to 61% a month ago.

Globally, the coronavirus case count is close to 19 million, including over 707,000 deaths and more than 11.3 million recoveries (60%), data from Johns Hopkins University showed. India has one of the worst weekly growth rates in cases among high-fatality countries, and at its current pace, could cross the 2.5 million mark in another week’s time.

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