Kerala, Maharashtra now the only epicentres, but covid persists in some states

AP photo
AP photo


  • Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh were among a handful of states where case-loads rose faster than the national average in the past week

India’s covid-19 vaccination drive is all set to begin on Saturday, even as the outbreak continues to slow down sharply across states. The number of infections rose just 1.2% over the last seven days, the slowest so far. Kerala and Maharashtra remained the biggest epicentres, with half of all new cases in India coming from these two states.

In some other states though, a sharp slowdown in the outbreak is now followed by relative stability, with thousands of cases still being reported every week. Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh were among a handful of states where case-loads rose faster than the national average.

The numbers are coming down in these states too. However, this drop is not as fast as in the other states with significant case-loads, such as Delhi, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

India’s total infection count so far has risen to 10.51 million as of Thursday morning, of which 151,727 have died, shows data from the Union health ministry. A total of 213,603 patients remain under treatment. As many as 116,815 new infections and 1,397 deaths were reported this week.

The outbreak in Kerala, now in its fifth month, is spread across its districts. Out of the 14 districts in the state, 13 added more than 1,000 new cases over the past week, shows data compiled by on Wednesday evening. Ernakulam (5,168) was the worst, and Kasargod (485) the only exception.

Only 12 other districts across India hit the 1,000 mark during the seven-day period—five of them in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Pune, and Thane.

Pathanamthitta district recorded the biggest weekly growth (10%) in cases, followed by Idukki (9%), Wayanad (8%), Kottayam (7%), and Ernakulam (6%). All these districts are in Kerala. The spike in Chhattisgarh was led by Koriya, Surguja, and Durg (4% each).

All weekly growth trends are based on seven-day rolling averages to minimize the effect of delayed and volatile reporting by authorities.

A low fatality rate nationally, amidst the slowing outbreak, means death counts have improved sharply. Maharashtra remains the worst-hit in terms of deaths, with Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, and Thane reporting more than 40 each this week—the highest in the country.

Covid-19 has killed relatively fewer people in Kerala even as infections have surged for months. The state recorded 164 deaths this week, compared to 396 in Maharashtra. West Bengal (130) was the only other state with over 100 deaths in the period.

India tested 11 million samples in the last two weeks, of which only 2% tested positive for the coronavirus, much lower than peak levels earlier. Kerala still has a disproportionately high positivity rate (9.1%) despite having among the best testing rates in the country. This shows even high testing is not proving to be enough to tame the outbreak.

Chhattisgarh had a positivity rate of 3.5% in the last fortnight. Since infections are still rising, the state needs to ramp up testing to be able to trace more cases.

Globally, the US continues to face the worst of covid-19, with more than 250,000 new cases being reported every week. The situation in the UK has improved marginally amid a lockdown. However, the focus the world over has now moved from the infection to the vaccine.

As of Wednesday, around 30 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, according to Our World in Data, an online publication. The US tops the list, with over 10.2 million vaccine doses, followed by China (10 million), the UK (3.1 million), and Israel (2.0 million). Israel has the best vaccination rate, with 23 doses already given per 100 population.

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India’s Covishield, developed by Serum Institute of India, is among the 10 vaccines that have received approval for usage across the world. Around 30 million healthcare and frontline workers will be prioritized, and the process could months. These doses are in the process of being dispatched to all states, with around 5.6 million doses dispatched on the first day itself on Tuesday.

The large population means the vaccination task will take longer in India than many other countries.

The year has begun on a hopeful note, with an end to the pandemic increasingly in sight. However, this must not remove the focus from the few states that are still reporting the bulk of India’s cases.

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