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India records 7% increase in coronavirus cases over past week

There have been debates over India entering into a third wave of infections with the government maintaining that the country still is reeling under the second wave, which is far from over. (Bloomberg)Premium
There have been debates over India entering into a third wave of infections with the government maintaining that the country still is reeling under the second wave, which is far from over. (Bloomberg)

  • South-East Asia reported a 9% week-on-week increase in new cases. The highest number of new cases were reported from India, with 283,923 new infections translating into 20.6 new cases per 100,000 individuals

NEW DELHI: India recorded the highest uptick in covid cases in the past week in the South East Asia region and the second-highest number of cases globally after the United States.

South-East Asi reported a 9% increase in new cases as compared to the previous week (over 841,000 cases). The highest number of new cases were reported from India with 283,923 new cases translating into 20.6 new cases per 100,000 individuals, showed World Health Organization’s weekly epidemiological update on covid-19.

“At the country level, the highest numbers of new cases in the past week were reported by the United States of America (543,420 new cases; 9% increase), India (283,923 new cases; 7% increase) and Indonesia (273,891 new cases; 5% decrease)," the WHO update showed.

India reported 42,982 new cases in the last 24 hours with 514 deaths. Active caseload of 4,11,076 constitutes 1.29% of total cases. The weekly positivity rate stands at 2.37%, according to the union health ministry data. There have been debates over India entering into a third wave of infections with the government maintaining that the country still is reeling under the second wave, which is far from over.

“India is in midst of ending second wave and possible rising third wave. Some parts of the country, especially Kerala haven’t seen full recovery from the second wave yet. Cases are possibly rising again due to low pace of vaccination and people generally lowering the guard. As the festive period begins, India is now entering a critical phase where the next few weeks will define how large and when the third wave will come," said Himanshu Sikka, lead- health, nutrition and WASH from IPE Global, an international development health consultancy.

The central government on Wednesday asked states to impose local restrictions ahead of festivals season that may lead to mass gatherings and trigger faster spread of coronavirus infection.

“Pandemic is on the rise again in every country because of the Delta strain, which is very virulent and transmissible, evades the immune system, and affects the children too. As we are witnessing, places with low vaccination rates and people not following covid-19 norms such as proper hygiene and sanitation are seeing an upsurge of cases, such as Florida in the USA," said Professor N K Ganguly, president, Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) and former director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Ganguly argued that India is also not very different, as the vaccination rate hasn’t caught up, and community spread is high.

“Even though we are seeing high antibodies in sero-surveillance around 68%, that doesn’t mean that we have achieved herd immunity. Genome Sequencing brings out advantages, as they enable us to keep a track of other mutations which are lurking. We need to be on our toes and keep a track of it through contract tracing, inter-state travel etc. We also need to do the sequencing of sewage and backwater samples, and if it is rising in the samples, then it is likely that there could be an outbreak in the population," said Ganguly.

At least eight states are showing higher reproductive numbers of covid-19 infection with Himachal Pradesh having the highest value (1.4) followed by Jammu & Kashmir (1.4) and Lakshadweep (1.3), the centre said on Tuesday warning that the second covid-19 wave is ongoing.

Reproduction number (Rt) is the average number of new infections generated by one infected individual during the entire infectious period. R>1 denotes a spreading infection. Rt for India is 1.2 while other states having high reproduction numbers are Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Karnataka, Puducherry and Kerala.

“In Kerala, housing is dense, population density is high, and there is greater movement of people from peri-urban areas to urban areas, and hence it has a very high hazard index. We are also seeing a large number of cases in Kerala because they have a high testing rate compared to other states in the country. Mobility among the population in Kerala is very high, so we are likely to see high cases in other states too," said Ganguly.

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