4 min read.Updated: 04 Apr 2020, 10:15 AM ISTSriharsha Devulapalli,Pooja Dantewadia
Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have witnessed the biggest surge in coronavirus cases over the past two days
The number of reported covid-19 cases in India has jumped 39 percent over the past two days to 2547, last evening’s data from the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW). This is a slower increase compared to the previous 48 hours, when the reported case count rose 47 percent to 1834.
The actual increase in case count was likely higher than what has been reported, given that the ministry updated its data for yesterday early evening, and did not post any further updates in the night even as figures aggregated from state government officials suggested that the case count had inched up far beyond what the Union health ministry was reporting.
Compared to last week, India’s trajectory has steepened considerably this week. India’s curve is still flatter than that of the US, which is emerging as the new global epicentre of covid-19. Yet, it is steeper than Asian peers such as Singapore and Japan. Both countries had managed to flatten their trajectories in the early days through focused screening and testing. But a second wave of infections suggests that their efforts might not have been enough still.
Singapore has already announced a month-long lockdown and Japan may also be considering one now.
India is already in the 11th day of a 21-day lockdown and the case count continues to mount, partly driven by the numbers from a religious gathering at Nizamuddin in Delhi last month, where a large number of delegates were infected and fell ill after the event. Similar clusters had driven the spread of covid-19 in some other countries as well.
India’s case count is now roughly double what it was four days ago. At this trajectory, the number of cases could shoot up to 10,000 over the next eight days. If the same trajectory continues beyond that period, India’s hospitals could get overwhelmed in the next few months.
It is likely that cases will continue to mount over the coming days as testing expands, even if the lockdown has lowered the rate of transmission of the virus. The full impact of the lockdown can be gauged only after a few weeks. If the lockdown phase is used effectively to identify and isolate affected patients, this could help India flatten the curve in the coming weeks. If not, cases could spike once the lockdown ends.
At 302, Tamil Nadu leads in terms of the number of active cases of covid-19, according to the health ministry update on Friday evening. Active cases exclude deaths and recoveries from the list of confirmed cases. Maharashtra has the second most number of active cases (277), closely followed by Kerala (257). At 207 active cases, Delhi has the fourth-highest number of active cases, followed closely by Rajasthan (164). The top five states together account for 52 percent of the active cases nationally. Nationally, the active case count was 2322, as of yesterday evening.
These are early days yet and the state-wise distribution could change rapidly in the coming days. Across the country, there seems to be a strong link between the extent of testing done by states and the number of cases that have been identified. This suggests that as other states ramp up testing, more cases could get reported from those states as well.
So far, four states have reported covid-19 cases in the north-east: Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Other north-eastern states have not reported any case so far.
Over the past two days, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have seen the biggest spikes in confirmed cases. These two states accounted for a fifth of the rise in confirmed cases nationally over this period. Uttar Pradesh saw the third highest spike in this period.
The number of active cases rose from 227 to 302 in Tamil Nadu, from 90 to 164 in Rajasthan, and from 87 to 156 in Uttar Pradesh over the past two days.
So far, the provisional district wise details are available for 1,965 confirmed cases nationally. In this list, Mumbai (174 cases) has reported the most number of cases nationally, and also leads in the state of Maharashtra.
Kasargod district (115 cases) has reported the most number of cases in Kerala. Chennai (37 cases) tops the list of most confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu. In Rajasthan, it is the capital city of Jaipur (32 cases) that has reported the most number of cases.
More than a million people have now been detected as covid-19 patients globally even as several parts of the world, including India, have taken severe lockdown measures in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes covid-19.
So far, covid-19 has claimed 58,871 deaths globally, of which Italy has accounted for the most deaths (14,681), followed by Spain (11,198). These countries have overtaken China --- where the virus originated --- in the number of deaths. China, which has claimed 3,326 covid-19 deaths so far, has been able to slow the spread of the disease over the past month although its death count has been disputed by other countries such as the US.
If Europe followed China in becoming the epicentre of the pandemic, the US has followed Europe now. At 2,77,953 confirmed cases and 7,152 deaths so far, the US has surpassed China on both counts.
In India, there have been 62 deaths till yesterday. The death toll has nearly doubled in four days, and could go up further in the coming days. Even though India’s fatality rate remains low at the moment, India’s testing rate too remains low. Testing criteria in India were stringent so far and are only gradually being relaxed even as new labs have begun testing.
Given the limited testing, it is too early to say whether India’s current trajectory will sustain, rise, or flatten in the coming days. It is worth noting that the US had a flatter trajectory compared to China till recently. But as testing expanded, cases spiked up, with the US now emerging as the global epicentre of the pandemic.