Centre says coronavirus case trajectory in eight states concerning

The outbreak in these regions has also meant that the country’s overall outbreak reproduction number -- also known as the effective R number -- has risen to 1.2
A crowded Dadar market in the evening after Maharashtra government allowed shopkeepers to open their shops till 10pm in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)
A crowded Dadar market in the evening after Maharashtra government allowed shopkeepers to open their shops till 10pm in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 04, 2021 02:30 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

The reproduction number of the Covid-19 outbreak in eight states is above 1 and rising, the government’s top health officials said on Tuesday, pointing to the data as a cause of concern at a time when most parts of the country are recording a drop in cases.

The outbreak in these regions has also meant that the country’s overall outbreak reproduction number — also known as the effective R number — has risen to 1.2. The R number denotes, on average, how many people each infected person is passing the virus to. If the number is above 1, it thus means the outbreak is expanding. The value can be seen as an early warning of a growing outbreak.

“The second wave is not over in the country yet; we are still reporting over 30,000 cases. These cases are being reported from limited areas but when activities were opened up, there were some areas where Covid-19 safe behaviour wasn’t followed and there could be an increase in cases. The reproduction number increased from 0.6, to 0.8, and now it has increased to 1.2,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union ministry of health, during the government’s routine briefing on Covid-19.

He added: “There is an increasing trajectory globally. The US, Canada, and Australia also have an R nought of 1.2.”

In India, there were eight regions where the effective R number was 1 or above, and had risen in recent days: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Karnataka, Puducherry, and Kerala.

Himachal and J&K have the highest R number of 1.4 among all, the government’s data showed.

At the briefing, the officials also cited early findings of a six-member central committee sent to Kerala to assess the outbreak there. Headed by director of National Centre for Disease Control Dr Sujeet Singh, the team visited one of the affected districts of Mallapuram where it advised the state to increase active detection of Covid-19 cases, improve contact tracing, and increase the number of RT PCR tests.

Mallapuram recorded a test positivity rate of 17.26%, and 80% of the tests there were conducted using the less accurate rapid antigen tests.

“People who get symptoms were getting tested. But our containment strategy suggests that wherever there is clustering of cases, containment zones be created and special teams go door-to-door for contact tracing and actively detecting cases,” said Agarwal.

Strict containment must be followed even as the state opens up activities as per the test positivity rate in the districts, said Agarwal. He added that the committee also noted that 91% of the cases were in home isolation, making all household people high risk contacts. However, only 1.5 contacts were traced per case, according to him.

“We have advised earlier that it should be close to 1:20. Contact tracing needs to be done properly,” said Agarwal. Along with the containment measures, he added that the committee also suggested that the health infrastructure, especially ICU and ventilator beds, also be increased in places where they are stressed. Increased vaccination is also needed, said Agarwal.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anonna Dutt is a health reporter at Hindustan Times. She reports on Delhi government’s health policies, hospitals in Delhi, and health-related feature stories.

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