India coronavirus cases: India has overtaken Brazil to now become the country with the second-largest number of people infected with novel coronavirus. More than 41.13 lakh people in India have so far been found to have been infected with the virus. Brazil, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, has 40.41 lakh infected people. Only the United States, where more than 60 lakh people have so far been infected, is ahead of India now.
In the process of overtaking Brazil on Saturday, India also scaled a new high in the number of new cases detected in a single day. More than 90,000 new infections were discovered on that day. No country has recorded more than 75,000 new cases in a single day since the outbreak began.
Brazil, in the last couple of weeks, has been reporting less than half that number on most of the days. On some days in between, its daily discovery of cases has dropped to well below 20,000. The United States also has been reporting between 40,000 and 50,000 cases a day, which means India is expected to rapidly close down the gap with the United States as well in the coming weeks.
While India has been contributing the largest number of new cases every day for quite some time now, there has been big jump in daily new detections in the last 11 days. That can at least partly be explained by a corresponding increase in the number of tests being carried out. While India’s testing capacity has increased steadily, the numbers have gone up sharply since August, more so in the last two weeks.
At the start of August, between 4 and 5 lakh samples were being tested every day across the country. Towards the end of the month, that number crossed the one million mark, and has stayed there ever since. No country has carried out more tests on a day, except the United States.
The accompanying chart shows how the tests and the cases are closely related, and have grown in a similar fashion, with similar growth rates. This is not surprising. More the number of people tested, more the number of people likely to be detected positive. That is because many more people have been infected with the disease than have been detected through the diagnostic tests. There are capacity constraints in carrying out tests, but not in the transmission of the disease.
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The increasing divergence in the two curves in the last few weeks is a reflection of the falling positivity rate. Fewer number of people are now being found to be infected for the same number of tests carried out, compared to earlier. This is also not surprising. As the disease spreads in the population, the number of uninfected people, who can potentially be infected, goes down, resulting in a fall in positivity rate. The positivity rate has been slowly, but steadily, declining since the second week of August.
The national picture seems to be getting reflected in Maharashtra as well. The state has seen a recent surge in the number of new cases being detected, again at least partially attributable to an increase in the number of tests being conducted. On Saturday, Maharashtra reported more than 20,000 cases for the first time.
Top 10 states with maximum caseload
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Along with the rise in cases, there has been an increase in the number of deaths being reported in the last few days. The two metrics are not directly related though, since the deaths happening right now are from the lot of people who would have got infected two to three weeks ago. But this lag effect would mean that the deaths would rise further in the coming weeks.
Right now, more than 1,000 deaths are being reported from across the country every day. The total number of people who have so far succumbed to the disease now exceeds 70,000, the third highest death toll in the world. Only the United States and Brazil have seen more deaths, though as a proportion to total population, or to the total number of confirmed infections, several other countries have had many more deaths than India.
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