Covid-19: What you need to know today
By Sunday night, the number of tests carried out in India was 665,819.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 05:35 IST
The number of Covid-19 cases in the world was nearing three million and that in the US, a million when this article was being written — and will likely be over those numbers when it is read.
In India, the number of cases was 29,422 on Monday night, according to Hindustan Times’ tracker, with 933 deaths.
The number of cases added between Sunday night and Monday night was 1,573.
On Sunday, India added 1,611 cases for a total of 27,849; on Saturday, it added 1,834; and on Friday, it did 1,408. There’s not much of a pattern to be seen in those numbers — beyond the obvious fact that the growth is definitely not exponential like it was in Wuhan in China, Italy, the US (especially New York), the UK, Spain, and France.
By Sunday night, the number of tests carried out in India was 665,819. That’s 512 people per million — still low, but higher than what it was in mid-April. It was only 233 per million population on April 16. Indeed, more than half (54%) of all tests in India have happened in the 11 days from April 16 to April 26, and more than a third (35%) in the week between April 20 and April 27.
The death toll around the world has crossed 200,000 but there’s a growing opinion that the actual number could be higher.
It’s easy to calculate the numbers if the data is available. Reported Covid-19 death tolls across nations are known; and the average number of people who died in a particular month (or even week) on average over the past five years is also known. The difference, if it is significant, is clearly a spike that can only be explained by Covid-19 — unless there is another mystery illness stalking people (there isn’t) or a sharp increase in deaths from accidents and murders (there isn’t).
Late last week, The New York Times estimated that deaths were underreported by around 36,000 in 12 countries. On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that in 14 countries it studied, the deaths were underreported by around 60%, or 45,000. That doesn’t seem to be the case in India — a fact pointed out by Hindustan Times’ Mumbai bureau on April 14 using data for Mumbai, the city worst affected by Covid-19 in the country. According to that report, in March, Mumbai saw 5,669 non-Covid deaths, down from 7,155 deaths reported in March 2019 and 7,436 in March 2018. The story quoted the additional municipal commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation as saying that in general people are following better hygiene practices, taking care of themselves, and eating healthier. More importantly, with most vehicles and all suburban trains not running, there were almost no deaths from road and rail accidents.
It isn’t just Mumbai, even in Delhi, deaths from murders and accidents are down, according to a report by Hindustan Times’ Delhi bureau on April 19. In the entire first phase of the lockdown (and the two days preceding it — March 23-April 14) only nine people died in road accidents in Delhi; on average, four people die every day because of road accidents in the city.
If this trend holds up across cities and states, it will be another way in which the pattern of Covid-19 in India is different from that in many other parts of the world. Here’s hoping it stays that way.