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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Warning signs emerge in the East: Why Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar are the states to watch

Incidentally, West Bengal also has the fastest doubling time among large states in India, as pointed out in a graphical analysis by The Indian Express on Wednesday. Doubling time refers to the time taken for the number of cases to double.

Written by Amitabh Sinha , Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi, Pune |
Updated: April 30, 2020 9:32:12 am
 coronavirus, covid-19 bengal, bengal Bihar coronavirus, covid-19 Bihar, coronavirus covid-19 news India, India lockdown, Indian express news As of Wednesday, West Bengal had 696 confirmed cases of infection, while Bihar and Jharkhand had 383 and 107 cases respectively.

While Maharashtra and Gujarat have been attracting attention for the rapid rise in cases of novel coronavirus infection, states in the east have, for the first time now, started to show signs that they could emerge as potential danger zones as well.

The latest analysis of computer modelling results by scientists of the Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences show that though West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand still had a combined case load of less than 1,200 on April 29, these three states had the highest rate of growth — measured by their reproduction numbers — in the country in the last few days. The reproduction number refers to the number of persons who are infected on average by an already infected person.

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As of Wednesday, West Bengal had 696 confirmed cases of infection, while Bihar and Jharkhand had 383 and 107 cases respectively. Together, they accounted for less than 4 per cent of the national case load, which was close to 33,000 on Wednesday evening.

In contrast, Maharashtra had 9,915 confirmed cases; Gujarat, 4,082. Together, they made up over 40 per cent of the cases in the country.

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“The absolute numbers in these states (West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand) are still quite low, so they do not seem to be an immediate problem. But I think they need to be taken note of. West Bengal, in particular, stands out even among the three. At the end of March, the growth rate in West Bengal was showing signs of flattening, but now it seems to be on a completely different trajectory. In fact, if we just look at the growth curves in a non-rigorous fashion, it would appear that West Bengal is following the Maharashtra numbers with a lag of three weeks,” said Sitabhra Sinha, who, along with his colleagues at IMSc, has been tracking the disease numbers.

Incidentally, West Bengal also has the fastest doubling time among large states in India, as pointed out in a graphical analysis by The Indian Express on Wednesday. Doubling time refers to the time taken for the number of cases to double.

Sinha said that while the national reproduction number had falled from nearly 1.83 before the lockdown began to about 1.29 now (for the April 20-27 period), West Bengal had a reproduction number of 1.52 (for the period April 18-27). That means that every 100 infected persons in the state has been passing on the virus to another 152 people. Bihar had a reproduction number of 2.03, and Jharkhand, 1.87.

Sinha said that thanks to the lockdown, there were only four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh — that were continuing to show a “consistent” rise in growth over time periods longer than a week. Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh also continue to grow, but at slower rates.

“The lockdown has helped in considerably slowing down the growth of the epidemic. Had there been no lockdown, we could have been on a path to reaching a case load of about 1 lakh by the end of this month. Thanks to the lockdown, it seems the number of active cases would remain well within 30,000 by that time,” Sinha said.

Active cases do not count the number of people who have recovered from the disease. There were a little over 25,000 active cases in the country on Wednesday.

Sinha’s calculations show that the current reproduction number in Maharashtra is 1.5, and in Gujarat, 1.38 — both higher than the national number. The reproduction number for Delhi, another fast-growing state, could not be calculated because of the large variations in daily increase in the case load.

west bengal coronavirus cases, west bengal mamata centre clash, centre team to west bengal, coronavirus cases west bengal, covid-19 india updates, west bengal covid-19 updates, latest news West Bengal has the fastest doubling time among large states in India. (Express Photo)

Three of the four states still showing significant growth — Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — and Delhi, have been contributing a bulk of the new cases in the country. In the last one week, these four states accounted for 60 per cent all cases in the country. And within these states, the cities of Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Indore, apart from Delhi, are driving the growth of the epidemic in India.

In the last week, at least six out of every 10 cases in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh came from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Indore respectively.

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Mumbai constitutes 66 per cent of the total positive cases and 61 per cent of deaths reported in Maharashtra. Similarly, Ahmedabad constitutes 67 per cent of the total positive cases and 71 per cent of deaths in Gujarat, while Indore constitutes 57.47 per cent of the total positive cases and 52.5 cent percent of the deaths reported in the Madhya Pradesh.

In last week, Mumbai added 355 cases on an average every day. That was equivalent to 26 per cent of the total cases in the entire state till date (9,318). The death count from Mumbai in just the last one week was 21 per cent of the total number of deaths in the state reported till now (400).

The story is not very different in Gujarat. Ahmedabad, in the last one week, added 149 cases on an average every day. That is 27 per cent of all the cases reported in Gujarat till now. In the same period, Ahmedabad reported 66 deaths that is almost 36 per cent of all the deaths reported from the state till now.

A similar story is unfolding in New Delhi. The city reported an average of 152 cases every day during the last week. That was almost one-third of all its cases till now. However, Delhi has reported just six deaths in the last week, which is barely 11 per cent of the total deaths.

The situation is similar for Indore in Madhya Pradesh, and to a lesser extent, for other major urban centres like Hyderabad and Jaipur. Uttar Pradesh is an outlier to this trend, however. The cases, as well as deaths, are more spread out, and there are six to eight urban centres that are sharing the burden of the epidemic.

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