It’s been 34 days now that the recoveries have been outnumbering detection of new infections, the strongest sign yet that the coronavirus epidemic in India is firmly on the decline. During this time, the active cases have almost halved, the daily detection of new cases has dropped to less than half of the peak achieved in September, and the growth rate has come down to just about 0.5 per cent per day.
The main drivers for this rather sudden and unexpected turnaround are still not clear, especially since it has come in the midst of festival season, Bihar elections, and a resumption in general activities. That is also the reason why health authorities and experts have been cautioning against lowering of the guard. The festival season is not yet over, and deterioration in air quality in the approaching winter is likely to be an added complication because it could worsen respiratory conditions amongst infected people.
But the biggest warning is the current situation in Delhi where the cases have been at historic highs. Delhi has had multiple phases of sustained growth and decline, with very clear peaks, each bigger than the previous one. For the last three days, the city has been recording almost 7,000 cases a day. No other city, including Pune, has ever detected more than 6,000 cases a day.
Delhi’s current growth rate is only marginally lower than that of Kerala, which offers another example of the perils of premature declaration of victory over the epidemic. For over two weeks now, Kerala has been contributing the highest number of cases in the country, though it has as much to do with the Kerala’s own numbers as a dramatic decline in new cases in Maharashtra, the worst affected state by a big margin. In these last two weeks, Kerala has added almost one lakh new cases of coronavirus infection, while Maharashtra has detected less than 80,000. Delhi has found more than 72,000 new cases during this time.
Apart from Delhi and Kerala, there only two states with caseloads of more than a lakh, West Bengal and Haryana, that have a growth rate of more than one per cent a day.
Meanwhile, Karnataka has overtaken Andhra Pradesh to become the state with the second highest caseload in the country, after Maharashtra. Karnataka has so far seen over 8.35 lakh people getting infected with the virus, while Andhra Pradesh, in the midst of a prolonged and sustained slowdown, has had 8.33 lakh infections till now. A few days earlier, Bengaluru had overtaken Pune to become the city with the second highest number of infected people, after Delhi. Bengaluru has over 3.45 lakh people who have been infected with the virus at some point of time.📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
After a small spike on the previous day, the number of new cases returned in the sub-50,000 range on Friday, the new normal, with the detection of less than 47,000 cases. Thursday’s number of 50,210 was the first time in ten days that the 50,000 mark had been breached. Thursday had also reported a substantially higher number of deaths, over 700, compared to recent trends which has seen death numbers well below 600. On Friday, 670 deaths were reported, taking the total death toll to almost 1.25 lakh.
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