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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Delhi, Haryana report fresh surge in coronavirus infections

But it is Chhattisgarh that is recording the fastest rise in coronavirus infections as well as deaths in the country

The spread of the coronavirus in India has worsened since August-end, taking the country's tally of confirmed cases past that of Brazil. In the last seven days, the number of active cases rose 12.5%, the biggest weekly jump in a month. The surge is led by a second wave in Delhi, where the recovery rate has fallen below last month’s high of 90%.

The national capital, which became India’s second city to cross 200,000 confirmed cases this week, has now allowed coronavirus testing even for those without a doctor’s prescription.

. This follows an advisory from the Indian Council of Medical Research, allowing states to begin coronavirus testing on demand. The new strategy is likely to lift India’s testing numbers further.

India’s total count of coronavirus patients has risen to 44,465,863 as of Thursday morning, latest data from the health ministry showed. Apart from Delhi, the infection is spreading fast in Chhattisgarh, Tripura, and Haryana. Kerala, meanwhile, had an easier week as its second outbreak, which began in July, appeared to calm down.

India accounted for 33% of the 1.8 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.

However, deaths continued to slow down. Typically, it takes a few weeks for a spurt in infections to reflect in a similar rise in deaths. India now has 75,062 covid-related deaths as of Thursday morning, after an 11% weekly jump, data from the health ministry showed.

Death trajectories had stabilized in Delhi and Gujarat by June. Maharashtra’s curve is not worsening, but has been rising at a stable rate. Punjab has been steady, and became the ninth state to cross 2,000 deaths this week.

Though the overall toll is rising slowly, some states such as Bihar and Haryana have started to show a steepened curve for deaths again, reflecting the recent spurt in infections. All calculations are based on seven-day rolling averages, which minimize the effect of volatile and delayed reporting.

Twenty states have more than 10,000 active cases, but all except Chhattisgarh have crossed the 70% mark in recovery rate, or the proportion of patients who have been discharged. The 46% recovery rate in Chhattisgarh reflects a severe increase in infections in recent weeks. With a 72% weekly growth, the state reported the worst jump in active cases in the country. The weekly pace of rise in active cases was 51% in Tripura, and 40% in Delhi and Haryana.

The number of active cases now stands at 919,018, while 3,471,783 patients have been discharged.

The five states with the most deaths—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi, and Andhra Pradesh—have a 69% share in the national death count. Among the states and Union territories with at least 100 deaths, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, and Puducherry 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 169 districts with at least 5,000 confirmed cases so far, the biggest percentage spikes over the last seven days were reported by Jammu district (74%) in Jammu and Kashmir, Raipur (47%) in Chhattisgarh, and Sangli (45%) in Maharashtra, 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.

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, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh 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 share in the cumulative death count is 8% but it has been rising steadily. In just the last seven days, the country accounted for 19% of over 40,000 deaths recorded globally, higher 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 27.8 million, including over 903,000 deaths and nearly 18.8 million recoveries (67%), data from Johns Hopkins University showed.

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