Another grim milestone: India No.3 in total coronavirus cases
With four consecutive days of record highs in new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), India on Sunday went past Russia in total infections to become the third biggest hot spot of the virus, ranking only behind the US and Brazil.
The country reported 24,422 new cases and 421 new deaths on Sunday, taking the total number of infections to 697,284 and fatalities to 19,700.
With nearly three million cases and 132,000 deaths, the United States is the worst-hit country in the world, followed by Brazil, which has nearly 1.6 million cases and over 64,000 deaths, according to worldometers.info. Russia, now at the fourth spot, has 681,251 Covid-19 infections and 10,161 deaths. Peru was placed fifth with over 299,000 cases and 10,000 deaths on Sunday night.
Public health experts say that while India has a high Covid-19 caseload, its case fatality rate, at 2.8%, is much lower than the global average of 4.7%.
Another statistic that offers hope is that 424,596 patients, or 60.9%, have recovered from the disease — better than the global recovery rate of 56.6%. The recovery rate in India has been climbing steadily — it was 48% a month ago and 28.5% 30 days before that. This means that 36.4% of the total case count is currently “active”. Active cases are a crucial metric because they directly influence the patient load faced by the country’s health care infrastructure.
The three worst-hit states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi – account for more than 60% of all cases recorded in the country, indicating how the virus has created urban hot spots of the infection. Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai have remained the cities with the highest numbers of infections, with 99,444, 84,524 and 68,254 confirmed Covid-19 cases (36.2% of the national tally) as of Sunday. Nearly 85% of all cases in the country can be traced to the 10 worst-affected states.
New Covid-19 cases have dropped substantially in China, the country where the pandemic originated, but surged in India and ravaged South America. Experts say that in countries with weak health care systems and impoverished populations, fighting the virus has proven to be difficult.
Latin America has become the latest epicentre of the highly contagious disease, with Brazil and Mexico both reporting massive spike in cases over the past month.
In India, the latest 100,000 infections were recorded in just five days. India recorded its first 50,000 Covid-19 cases in nearly 67 days, with a wave of infections beginning in March after three isolated cases were first reported in Kerala in January.
The disease’s doubling rate, which is defined as the average period it takes for a twofold rise, is 20.3 days.
Across the world, many governments are easing restrictions as they face political and economic challenges triggered by the pandemic. So far, the disease has killed at least 535,000 people worldwide and infected more than 11.4 million.
Concerns are rising in India, where new cases showed another record jump on Sunday, going past 21,000 for the fourth straight day amid easing restrictions on travel and business activity. States with relatively few cases have seen spikes in recent days as residents, including migrant workers travelling in special trains, have returned home. On average, India has reported 22,377 cases over the last five days.
Delhi reported 2,244 new cases on Sunday, taking the total infections to 99,444. A total of 3,067 people have died of the disease in the Capital so far. The numbers of daily cases in Delhi have remained under 3,000 for the last nine days, prompting chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to say that situation had been controlled by joint efforts of his government and the Centre.
While at the national level the new cases have risen by 3.5% on average over the past week, two states — Karnataka and Telangana — have shown nearly double the rate of increase in the same period. Though still considerably behind the “big three” in terms of total cases, Karnataka and Telangana have been climbing the national tally steadily, reporting the highest single-day cases outside the “big three” every day over the last week.
India broke into the top three hot spots of the infectious disease on a day the country completed testing 10 million samples for Covid-19, with more than 230,000 being tested every day on average over the last week. This places India on the fifth spot in the world in absolute numbers of tests — behind China, the US, Russia and the UK. However, once the population of the country is factored in, India drops to the 135th position globally, with over 7,500 tests conducted for every million residents of the country.
Experts, however, say that the death toll is a more effective indicator of how a country is performing against the pandemic. “Case counts are not a reliable indicator as there are too many variables. Cases detected depend on the number of tests, types of tests and false positives and false negatives associated with it, criterion for testing (who’s eligible, who’s not), and repeat testing. Given the fact that testing rates are different on each day and the numbers are not standardised, daily deaths are a more stable indicator of whether there is a decline in the epidemic,” said Dr Srinath K Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India.
“Since deaths lag behind cases by 10-20 days, a fall in daily deaths over 10 consecutive days is a more stable indicator of decline in new cases. Europe didn’t talk about case counts, they opened up when daily deaths started coming down. Italy, Spain and France all did that. But you need total deaths and deaths per million to assess the overall impact of the epidemic after it’s over,” he added.