Days after the easing of lockdown restrictions, Uttar Pradesh on Friday recorded 502 new cases of novel coronavirus in the state – the highest single-day jump so far. The state has added 863 to its Covid-19 case load in the last two days and 1,658 (17 per cent of the total) in the last five days from Monday (June 1). The cumulative number of infection now stands at 9,733 with 3,828 patients in hospitals following the recovery of more than 5,600 people.
The last two days also saw the number of deaths attributed to coronavirus in double digits – 15 and 12 – taking the total death count in the state to 257 with the fatality rate of around 2.6 per cent. Agra and Meerut continue to dominate the toll count with 48 and 34 deaths, respectively.
The surge comes at a time when health officials in the state have started admitting that in many new cases, they have not been able to trace the source of infection. However, the health officials deny the possibility of community transmission, citing the low test-positivity rate in the state, which as of Friday stood at 2.82% – much less than the national average.
“We can call it community transmission when our infection rate is at least 10-12 per cent and a significant number of random samples start testing positive. But that is not the case till now. Basically, most of the cases are still being traced back to the source. Also, most of these cases are from the known areas hit by the virus. In the last 15 days, almost 60 per cent of the positive cases were those who were infected outside the state. In the rest 40 per cent, almost half are contacts of inter-state migrants and the rest include the non-traceable ones or from the containment zones,” the health official said, adding that the state is nevertheless preparing for the worst-case scenario.
The bulk of the new cases reported this week has come from Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida). With the addition of 51 new cases in the last 24 hours, Noida has become the second district after Agra to cross the 600-case mark. In the last seven days, the district has recorded 223 coronavirus cases, which is more than the cumulative number of cases in 65 of the total 75 districts of UP. Noida also has the highest number of active cases at 292. In an interview to The Indian Express, Noida District Magistrate Suhas LY said that in the last few days, the district has witnessed the opening up of economic activities and naturally we have to be ready for the increase in coronavirus numbers.
“There is another aspect. People are also getting tested privately as well. As per the ICMR, at least 15 labs are functioning in the NCR region that are aiding in the identification of coronavirus cases. Plus the health camps are being held, and screening process is helping us trace the suspected contacts. Further, random sampling is being carried out which are identifying cases that are beyond the chain of infection,” said the DM. (Read full interview on page 3)
According to State Surveillance Officer Vikasendu Agarwal, districts like Noida and Ghaziabad have spillover cases from Delhi as a lot of people are crossing the border for work and are transferring the infection to their contacts.
“There are cases in state for which we are not able to trace the primary source. Though we do not have an exact number at present, there would be almost 50 such cases. This is in addition to several cases where we were able to trace the sources after 2-3 days. Such cases started appearing first in the western part of the state, but we are now getting such cases in the east too. This is very much expected with the increasing number of positive cases,” Agarwal added.
In Kanpur, which registered 48 new cases in the last 24 hours, District Magistrate Brahm Dev Tiwari attributed the latest surge to the contacts of a few “super spreaders” who had earlier tested positive and remained asymptomatic.
“All the new cases we are finding are contacts of the previously infected people. What has increased the problems for us is the chains that started from a single patient link are growing longer now. People linked to these patients were involved in helping the inter-state migrants kept under institutional isolation. They later tested positive, but not before they unknowingly infected others,” said Tiwari.
Another district that is fast becoming a major hotspot is Jaunpur. The district has registered 249 positive cases so far, including 41 in the last 24 hours. As per the state health department bulletin, a total of ten districts – Agra, Meerut, Noida, Lucknow, Kanpur Nagar, Ghaziabad, Jaunpur, Basti, Amethi and Azamgarh – have active cases in three digits.
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