Maharashtra, the worst affected state in this pandemic accounts for more than half of the active COVID-19 cases in the country, while neighbouring states are not registering numbers that are even close to the figures notched up by the state. The Federal compares the TPR parameters of Maharashtra with its neighbouring states to assess the disparity in the spread of the coronavirus.
Maharashtra had about 5.22 lakh active cases of the coronavirus as of April 8, while all the six neighbouring states – Goa, Karnataka, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – as not yet reported even one lakh case each. Their numbers are far lower than that of their severely impacted neighbour.
Maharashtra accounts for almost (half or 53.36%) cases of the total active cases in the country. The neighbouring states including Maharashtra account for more than 75% of the active cases in India. Chhattisgarh accounts for 6.95% cases followed by Karnataka which has 5.45% active cases.
Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is one parameter that gives us a clear indication of the pace of the spread in any region. TPR is the number of positive patients per hundred tested, the higher the TPR the more severe is the spread of the virus.
Maharashtra has the highest TPR of about 23.77% on April 8 as compared to its six neighbouring states and therefore has the highest number of cases. It is followed by Chhattisgarh that has also reported an alarming TPR rate of 21.85%. The state has 68,125 active cases of the virus. Madhya Pradesh too has more than 10% TPR for the same period. For India, the value was 10.24 %.
Interestingly, Karnataka and Gujarat, which have very low TPR value (this means spread is low), are conducting more tests followed by Maharashtra. Karnataka had conducted 1.08 lakh tests, while Gujarat conducted 1.34 lakh tests on the same day to report 6,570 and 4,021 positive cases of the virus, respectively. These states have a TPR of about 6% and 3% for the same period.
Dr Sundarraman, Global Coordinator of the People’s Health Movement told The Federal, “The different strains in the country and test positivity rates are the two factors that need to be considered here. Though the strain only can’t be essentially the explanation of this disparity in the number of cases in different states.”
He further said that the higher TPR denotes the more prevalence of the virus and those states that report a fewer number of cases should increase their testing. It can then be said that they have fewer infections.
Sunder, a former executive director of the National Health Systems Resource Center also pointed out, “Like in the first wave, it spread in Maharashtra in the beginning and later across the nation, a similar pattern can be happening now as well.”
He further added, “The robustness of the health infrastructure also plays a major role in the detection of the cases. That is why maybe a state like Kerala has more cases, but it essentially does not mean that the backward states like Bihar and Jharkhand have fewer infections than states like Maharashtra and even Kerala.” He basically emphasised that the health infrastructure of a state and how the authorities use it are the most important factors in reporting the cases besides scientific parameters like TPR.