May 13, 2020 10:47:05 am
After going past Delhi, the number of novel Coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu look poised to overtake Gujarat as well. Tamil Nadu discovered 716 new infections on Tuesday, and now has 8718 confirmed cases. Gujarat, the state with the second-highest number of cases, has 8904 with the addition of 362 new cases on Tuesday.
As has been happening every day, most of the new cases in Tamil Nadu came from Chennai which now has close to 5,000 cases. This is more than 55 per cent of the total number of cases in the state. But Chennai is not alone in this. In several states, the bulk of cases, more than 50 per cent, are concentrated in just one or two cities. Mumbai accounts for over 60 per cent of all cases in Maharashtra while Ahmedabad has over 70 per cent of all cases in Gujarat. Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Kolkata in West Bengal are also in a similar situation (see box). These cities also account for a large proportion of deaths in the states.
|City||Cases||State||Percentage of State number|
This has already started putting these cities’ health infrastructure to test. Mumbai, which has more than 10,000 active cases now, is running short of hospital beds to accommodate new patients. On Tuesday, some patients found themselves being put on waitlists, as the local authorities scrambled to add more beds in both government and private hospitals.
But from the point of view of controlling the spread of the disease, the concentration of cases in small areas is not a bad thing. It helps the health authorities to demarcate and isolate these areas, and try to normalise activities in other places. In any case, the big urban centres are much better equipped with health infrastructure. Smaller towns and rural areas would get overwhelmed much quickly if faced with large number of cases.
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On Tuesday, 3,532 new cases were discovered all over the country, taking the total number of confirmed infections to 74,276. Of these, at least 24,385 people have already recovered, and therefore are no longer in a position to pass on the disease to others. The number of deaths has reached 2415.
The relaxation in lockdown rules from May 4, which has seen the resumption of many activities, and easing of restrictions on movement of people, has so far not had any big impact on the spread of the disease, as was being feared. One week after the relaxations were allowed, there are still no signs that there is any major surge in the number of cases.
|State||Total Cases||New Cases||Deaths|
In the last ten days, there have been two days when an abnormal spike in numbers was observed. On May 4, when daily increases were in the range of 2200 to 2500, more than 3800 cases were discovered. But that was attributed to adjustments made by Maharashtra and West Bengal, which added some previously uncounted cases. On last Sunday, there was another unusual surge when 4370 new cases were reported. In the two days after that, however, the daily increases have come down to about 3600 every day.
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The rate of transmission of the disease — the number of people being infected on an average by an already infected person — has not shown any major deviation in the last one week. For the period starting April 13, when the first phase of lockdown ended, till May 10, this rate of transmission, called reproduction number, has been 1.23, meaning every group of 100 infected people were passing on the disease to 123 more, on an average. This is significantly lower than the number before the first phase of lockdown had begun on March 24. At that time, 100 people were estimated to be transmitting the disease to at least 183 people on an average.
But some states are seeing a rapid rise in numbers. Apart from Tamil Nadu, there has been a surge happening in Odisha, even though the total number of cases is still modest compared to the top five states. On Tuesday, Odisha reported 101 cases, its highest till now. The state has 538 cases now, most of them concentrated in the five districts of Ganjam, Balasore, Jajpur, Khurda and Bhadrak. Almost all the cases being discovered in Odisha in the last few days are amongst migrant workers returning from other states, or their immediate contacts. Ganjam, the worst affected district, now has 210 cases.
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