In Madhya Pradesh, the daily case rate went up 277%, while the average positivity rate rose 3.3 percentage points. (PTI)
In Madhya Pradesh, the daily case rate went up 277%, while the average positivity rate rose 3.3 percentage points. (PTI)

3 states face risk of being next Covid-19 hot spots

  • Maharashtra leads the pack but Punjab, MP and Haryana also see their positivity rates rise higher than the average national rise of 1.4 percentage points; Kerala the only state to see its positivity rate drop over the past 30 days
By Jamie Mullick, Abhishek Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 20, 2021 10:52 AM IST

With the Covid-19 outbreak in Maharashtra already spiralling to near-record levels in recent days, three states—Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh – appear to face the immediate risk of becoming the next hot spots of the disease, with a high growth rate of cases and rising positivity rates, according to an HT analysis.

To identify the new hot spots of the outbreak, HT analysed data from India’s 20 most populous regions, looking for three factors—a rising positivity rate, a high growth rate of daily cases, and low tests per million residents—that have marked all hot spots globally.

India's Covid positivity rate rose from 1.7% on Feb 16 to 3.1% on March 17.(HT Graphics)
India's Covid positivity rate rose from 1.7% on Feb 16 to 3.1% on March 17.(HT Graphics)

HT also analysed the change in the seven-day average of daily new cases at the district level based on data compiled by How India Lives. Statistics at both the district and state levels show that western regions of the country have a seen a higher surge in cases than eastern regions.

Unsurprisingly, the statistics in Maharashtra, the state which has been reporting a massive increase in new infections in the past week, are alarming.

Maharashtra has seen a massive increase in new infections in the past week.(HT Graphics)
Maharashtra has seen a massive increase in new infections in the past week.(HT Graphics)

The seven-day average of positivity rate in the state went from 7% for the week ending February 16 to 16.4% for the week ending March 17. In fact, the state has nearly four times the positivity rate of any other state in the list. The seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases, also known as case trajectory, in the state grew 426% in the last 30 days—the second highest among the states analysed.

Three emerging hotspots

Punjab emerged as the state with some of the most worrying overall numbers, highlighting how the state may be far from seeing the worst of the outbreak. The daily case trajectory in the state grew 531% in the last 30 days (the highest in the country), while its weekly average positivity rate went up 4.7 percentage points in the same time period, the second-highest increase in India only after Maharashtra.

Punjab emerged as the state with some of the most worrying overall numbers. Haryana saw the third-highest rate of increase in case rate in the country after Punjab and Maharashtra. In Madhya Pradesh, the daily case rate went up 277%, while the average positivity rate rose 3.3 percentage points.(HT Graphics)
Punjab emerged as the state with some of the most worrying overall numbers. Haryana saw the third-highest rate of increase in case rate in the country after Punjab and Maharashtra. In Madhya Pradesh, the daily case rate went up 277%, while the average positivity rate rose 3.3 percentage points.(HT Graphics)

Haryana saw the third-highest rate of increase in case rate in the country after Punjab and Maharashtra—398% rise in case rate in the past 30 days. The state also saw its average positivity rate go up 2.2 percentage points.

In Madhya Pradesh, the daily case rate went up 277%, while the average positivity rate rose 3.3 percentage points. Another problematic statistic for the state, however, was its testing rate—in the past week, the state conducted 191 tests per million per day, one of the lowest in the country.

Positivity rate

In 19 of the 20 states analysed, the Covid-19 positivity rate—the proportion of people testing positive to those tested—was found rising in the last month. The seven-day average of positivity rate across India rose by 1.4 percentage points in the past 30 days—from 1.7% for week ending February 16 to 3.1% in the past week.

Bihar's seven-day average of cases has declined 25%. Its positivity rate hasn't increased over the last month.( HT Graphics)
Bihar's seven-day average of cases has declined 25%. Its positivity rate hasn't increased over the last month.( HT Graphics)

So far, the four states mentioned above—Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana—are the only regions where the positivity rate rose higher than the national average of 1.4 percentage points. A majority of the regions saw a very marginal increase in positivity rates in the past 30 days.

Kerala was the only state that saw its positivity rate improve—it dropped 3.8 percentage points, from 7.1% in mid-February to 3.3% in the last seven days.

Kerala was the only state that saw its positivity rate improve.(HT Graphics)
Kerala was the only state that saw its positivity rate improve.(HT Graphics)

Resurgence of cases

The seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases across India has risen 140% in the past 30 days (from 11,235 cases a day for week ending on February 16 to 26,991 a day on March 17)—a statistic that reflects the start of the second wave of infections.

Other than the four states mentioned above, the case rate is rising at worrying levels in Andhra Pradesh (276% higher in the past 30 days), Delhi (225%) and Gujarat (224%).

Change in positivity rate in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.(HT Graphics)
Change in positivity rate in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.(HT Graphics)

At the other end of spectrum lie Kerala, Bihar and Odisha—their the seven-day average of cases dropped 63%, 25% and 9% respectively. These were the only three states where the case trajectory receded in the past month.

Rising case rate, by district

The 707 districts (with 11 districts of Delhi merged as one) for which this data is compiled by How India Lives can be broadly divided into three categories on the basis of how their seven-day average of daily new cases has changed in the past month. This average was zero for about a quarter of districts (162) on both February 16 and March 17. For a similar number of districts (182 in all), the average of daily new cases either remained the same or saw a decline. However, a majority of districts (363) saw an increase. Seventy-seven of these 363 districts registered an increase from zero average daily cases a month ago.

Consolidated, time-series data on testing at the district-level was not available.

The states with the highest share of districts that had zero average new cases a month ago and had the same average on March 17 are Goa and all the north-eastern states.(HT Graphics)
The states with the highest share of districts that had zero average new cases a month ago and had the same average on March 17 are Goa and all the north-eastern states.(HT Graphics)

The share of districts that saw the most increase from non-zero cases (above 385%) among total districts of the state is the highest in Punjab, Maharashtra , Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. In these states, 82%, 58%, 36%, 31%, and 16% of the districts respectively were of the category that can be classified among those that saw the most increase nationally in the daily average of new cases.

The states with the highest share of districts that had zero average new cases a month ago and had the same average on March 17 are Goa and all the north-eastern states. Among large states, it is the eastern states of Jharkhand and Odisha that have a higher share of districts in this category than the rest of the country.

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