Covid-19: India’s daily cases, deaths hit lowest level in half a year
The rate of daily deaths due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India has dropped to the lowest level in over 200 days, or since early June, while the rate of new infections is at the lowest since early July, shows data analysed by HT.
These statistics indicate a slowing of the outbreak in the country, and come at a time when states have scaled up efforts to trace if a new and more transmissible virus variant from the UK has reached Indian shores.
In the past week, India has, on average, reported 299 new Covid-19 deaths a day, and 21,785 new infections daily. The last time India’s daily death rate was below this mark was on June 9, or 201 days ago, while the last time the case rate was this low was on July 6, or 173 days ago, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard.
India’s infection rate peaked in the middle of September, with the seven-day average of daily cases touching 93,617. This means that currently the case rate has dropped over 76% from the peak level.
This drop in the spread becomes particularly apparent when seen with new cases and deaths reported on Saturday – 18,595 new cases and 284 new deaths were reported. On Sunday, 20,346 new cases were reported in the country, while 276 new fatalities were lodged, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard.
While the last two days’ figures may be attributed to lower-than-usual testing levels on account of the Christmas holiday and the weekend, the larger trend cannot be explained by a drop in testing. India is conducting more than four times the number of daily tests than it was doing in the first week of July, when cases were this low previously – in the past week, over 986,352 samples were tested for Covid-19 on average in the country, while this was 228,920 tests a day for the week ending July 6.
Daily recoveries, meanwhile, have outnumbered new infections over the past month, data shows. The last time daily cases were more than daily recoveries was on November 27. On Sunday, 21,117 patients recovered across the country. The total number of cases in India on Sunday stood at 10,208,712, the death toll at 147,953, while 9,781,856 people have so far recovered, according to the data.
“The exponential rise in recoveries in tandem with lower daily new cases has resulted in consistent decline in the active cases and low mortality… India’s cumulative recoveries are highest in the world. The rising recoveries have also improved the recovery rate to 95.8%,” said the Union health ministry in a statement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, states across the country are tracing travellers from the UK who have entered India in the last few weeks to test them for Covid-19 and carry out genome sequencing to determine if anyone has been infected with the new viral strain that is believed to be more infectious.
India has imposed a temporary halt on flights from and to the UK from December 23 till December 31 following the detection of the new virus strain.
The government has kicked off a massive exercise to track all UK passengers who have arrived in India in the past four weeks. All samples of passengers who arrive in India from the UK that test positive are being re-tested through a spike gene-based reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test over the past week to look for the new virus variant, according to the Union health ministry. Separate isolation facilities have been created for those who test positive after returning from the UK.
While a combined official figure of the number of passengers from the UK who have tested positive was not released as of Sunday night, several states have identified such infections and have reported numbers – 21 people who recently returned from the UK have tested positive in Delhi, 18 infections were detected among UK returnees in Telangana, 16 in Maharashtra, 13 in Tamil Nadu, four in Andhra Pradesh and three in Karnataka, based on data released by the respective state governments.
On Saturday, the Union health ministry said that at least 50 samples were undergoing genome sequencing to check for the new variant in several laboratories across the country; none have so far tested positive.
“As part of the strategy that has been put in place to detect and contain the mutant variant detected in the UK, five per cent of the positive cases of Covid-19 from all states and UTs will be tested for Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS),” the health ministry said on Saturday after a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on the issue.