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India coronavirus numbers explained: Maharashtra’s unreported deaths behind today’s spike

India Coronavirus Cases Numbers: So far, over 44,000 people are reported to have died in India due to the disease, the fifth-highest death toll in the world.

Written by Amitabh Sinha , Edited by Explained Desk
Pune | August 10, 2020 12:31:39 pm
Coronavirus screening at a residential building in Mumbai. (Express photo/Amit Chakravorty)

India Coronavirus Cases: The number of novel Coronavirus related deaths in India crossed 1,000-mark on Sunday, though, once again it was the result of Maharashtra adding unreported data from the previous one week. Maharashtra reported 390 deaths on Sunday but said 260 of these were from the previous two days and the remaining were unreported from last one week.

Though the number of deaths has been rising steadily, as a proportion of total number of confirmed cases (also called case fatality ratio, or CFR), it has continued to decline, and has dipped to 2 per cent now.

One main reason for the rise in the number of cases is the rapid increase in testing.

The deaths that are reported daily often present an erroneous picture due to the aggregation of data from previous days. One data clean-up exercise in Maharashtra in the middle of June had resulted in the daily death count jumping to over 2,000. Smaller aggregations, like the one in Maharashtra on Sunday, happen routinely in several states. This month, between 700 and 800 deaths are being reported every day.

The CFR, however, presents a more consistent picture. The CFR has been falling steadily over the last two months, and is at historic lows right now. This is because the number of new cases of novel Coronavirus infections being detected every day far outpaces the growth in deaths.

So far, over 44,000 people are reported to have died in India due to the disease, the fifth-highest death toll in the world. But the CFR in India is well below the global average of 3.7 per cent. India ranks much lower when deaths per million population is considered. Globally, there have been 94 deaths per million population due to the disease till now. In India, this number is just 32, with at least 90 other countries registering more deaths per million population.

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Maharashtra 515,332 12,248 351,710 17,757
Tamil Nadu 296,901 5,994 238,638 4,927
Andhra Pradesh 227,860 10,820 138,712 2,036
Karnataka 178,087 5,985 93,908 3,206
Delhi 145,427 1,300 130,587 4,111
Uttar Pradesh 122,609 4,571 72,650 2,069
West Bengal 95,554 2,939 67,120 2,059
Telangana 80,751 1,256 57,586 637
Bihar 79,720 3,934 51,315 429
Gujarat 71,064 1,078 52,827 2,629

Similarly, while India has the third-largest number of confirmed cases in the world, and is now contributing more infections than any other country for the last few days, there are 91 countries which have higher cases per million population. India has just over 1,600 infections per million population, while the global average is 2,569.

The actual number of cases, in the states as well as in the country as a whole, and the growth rates also present seemingly conflicting pictures. While the detections of new cases every day is reaching higher and higher numbers, the growth rates in most states, including Andhra Pradesh, is on the decline. If the growth rate was increasing, or even if it was steady, many more number of cases would have been discovered.

One main reason for the rise in the number of cases is the rapid increase in testing. On Saturday, more than 7 lakh samples were tested in the country, the highest so far. But more than six lakh tests a day is now the normal level. So far, 24.58 million (2.45 crore) samples have been tested in the country. Only three other countries, China (over 90 million), the United States (over 65 million) and Russia (over 30 million), have tested more. But all these countries had begun testing much earlier than India, because the outbreak had started earlier. India had begun testing in March, with an initial capacity of just a few hundred tests per day. The target now is to reach one million tests per day in this month.

On Sunday, more than 62,000 new infections were detected in the country, taking the total number of people having been infected so far to 22.15 lakh. Maharashtra reported more than 12,000 infections on Sunday, while Andhra Pradesh found close to 11,000 new cases.

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