The surge in COVID cases right now is similar to what was observed in the second half of July 2020, when the pandemic was headed towards its peak. In the last 14 days (March 12 to 25), the country has reported 5.01 lakh new cases, compared to 6.14 lakh registered between July 17 and July 30 last year. The trend looks similar to last year’s, in fact, it has worsened now (see the chart below) in terms of positive rate. Thus, the changing pattern is clearly suggestive of a second wave of coronavirus in the days to come.
As of March 25, India had clocked 1.17 crore cases altogether. Currently, India has 3.95 lakh active cases – the number has doubled in the last two weeks. On March 12, the country had 1.97 lakh cases, which rose to four lakh on March 26.
More than sixty percent of these cases come from one state – Maharashtra, which has 2.48 lakh active cases, followed by Kerala (24,578 active cases) and Punjab (20,522) cases. These three states account for almost 75 percent of the cases in India. The rest of the states together have about one lakh active cases.
The increasing test positivity rate (TPR) in the country is another worry. TPR is the number of positive cases per hundred tests. Higher the TPR more the spread of the virus. On March 25, India reported a TPR of 5.02 percent which is an alarming sign for the authorities. It was 5.33 percent on March 23.
It is only after November 23, 2020 (5.19 percent) that the TPR had crossed the value of ‘5’. On that day, the country had reported 44,059 cases against 46,951 cases on March 22 this year when TPR has again crossed the five percent mark after almost four months. The TPR was above this point from April to October 2020 when the pandemic was at its peak in India.
Lower death rate
Though the number of deaths has been rising steadily since the first week of March, it is still less when compared with July last year. The death rate (deaths per 1,000 positive cases) on July 17 last year was 2.55. In contrast, the death rate on March 25 this year was 1.36 — just half of last year. As of March 26, India has reported a total of 1.60 lakh deaths.
Health experts attribute the fall in number of deaths to early detection, better medical preparedness and less lethal nature of the new strains of coronavirus, which are more virulent but less deadly.
A total of 251 deaths have been reported on March 25 from across the states. Of the total deaths, 95 were reported in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state among all states. Punjab and Kerala have reported 39 and 10 deaths, respectively. The daily deaths had come down to less than a hundred at the beginning of the year which has again risen after a spike in cases this month.