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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Covid-19 deaths picking up in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh

The toll is rising steadily in the two states, while the growth has slowed down in recent hotspots of southern India

The pace of growth in covid-19 deaths has slowed down from earlier levels in southern India in recent days. However, states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam are now reporting a steady rise in their toll. In the last seven days, each of these states saw their death counts rise at least 35%, data from the health ministry showed.

These states have fewer than 200 deaths each and a low fatality rate, but the fast growth in the number indicates how the pandemic is taking lives in new states now. Overall, India has 653,622 active cases as of Thursday morning, while 47,033 patients have died, the data showed. The number of patients still under treatment comprises about 27% of all coronavirus cases reported so far in India.

Three states crossed 2,000 deaths this week: West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh became the ninth state to cross 1,000 deaths, while Karnataka’s toll crossed 3,500. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat have the highest tolls, with a 73% 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 new states, while they have slowed down in earlier hotspots. In the last seven days, the curve has become steeper for Chhattisgarh (rise of 58%), Jharkhand (45%), Punjab (38%) and Assam (36%).

In Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, the growth rate in deaths reduced in the last week. All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages, which minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.

Among states with the highest number of active cases, the biggest percentage jumps in deaths in the last seven days were reported by Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam, while Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh led the surge in active cases.

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

After affecting the largest urban centres the most in its initial months, the virus has picked up in smaller towns and rural areas now. Some districts in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are reporting the fastest spread of infection. Among the 79 districts with at least 5,000 confirmed cases so far, the biggest percentage spikes over the last seven days were reported by Vizianagaram (67%) in Andhra Pradesh and Ahmednagar (65%) and Sangli (62%) in Maharashtra, data compiled by howindialives.com showed.

Of the nearly 340,000 active cases added globally over the last seven days, India accounted for nearly 23%—the highest in the world. 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 49,000 deaths recorded globally, the third highest share after the US and Brazil. The death toll is now the fourth 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 10% this week, much slower than the 19% growth in the preceding week. Deaths jumped 16%, in line with the pace of the earlier pace. But nearly 71%, or 1,695,982, of India’s coronavirus patients have now recovered, as compared to 63% a month ago.

Globally, the coronavirus case count has crossed 20.6 million, including nearly 750,000 deaths and more than 12.8 million recoveries (62%), 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 3 million mark in another week’s time.

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