Kerala and Maharashtra driving rise in India’s R-value, says report

The R-value for the country rose from 0.78 on June 30 to 0.88 in the first week of July, the report said

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Police officials get sanitised in Bandra, Mumbai. In Maharashtra the R-value is close to 1 | Photo: PTI

The R-value for India saw a slight increase in the first week of July, seemingly driven by the rise in the figure in Kerala and Maharashtra – the two states with the highest burden of active COVID-19 cases, a report said on Sunday (June 11).

According to researchers at the Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the R-value rose from 0.78 on June 30 to 0.88 in the first week of July, The Print website reported.

The R-value reflects the average number of people a person infected with coronavirus passes the disease on to. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially, as happened during the second wave of the pandemic in the country.

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The R-value had stayed at 0.78 for more than 20 days beginning June 8 – the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic, The Print quoted a researcher at the institute as saying.

“The trend of slowing down the rate of decrease in active cases is also seen in many states,” researcher Sitabhra Sinha, who has been tracking the R-value since the beginning of the pandemic, told The Print.

The rise in R-value, Sinha said, seems to be primarily driven by its increase in Kerala and Maharashtra.

In Maharashtra it has been creeping up over the past several weeks. At present it is close to 1, although Sinha said he could not make a robust estimate.

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In Kerala the value has been increasing since May. Kerala too has an R-value close to 1 at present.

Northeast India

Northeastern states are all seeing a rise in R-value, the report said. Manipur’s R-value was as low as 0.43 around June 26. This has increased to 1.07. In Meghalaya, the R-value increased to 0.92 around July 7, from 0.87 on June 29. Tripura’s R-value also increased to 1.15 last week, from around 0.73 until about July 2. Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have recorded a similar trend, with the R-value rising to 1.14 and 0.88, from 0.88 and 0.85, respectively.