Karnataka, Telangana could be country’s new Covid-19 hotspots
Telangana and Karnataka seem set to become the next hotspots in the country, with the highest growth rate of cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and high positivity rates, according to HT’s analysis.
Three factors — high growth rate of cases, high positivity rate, and at least one large urban centre which sees a significant concentration of cases — are common to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, the clear hotspots in the country so far, accounting for nearly 60% of all Covid-19 cases. HT analysed data from the 20 worst-hit states in the country on these three parameters to identify regions that are exhibiting signs that they may become the next Covid-19 hotspots.
A handful of states come into focus — Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Among them, Telangana and Karnataka stand out.
With 25,733 Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday, Telangana is the sixth worst-hit state in the country after Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
Over the past two weeks, the state has seen one of the fastest growing outbreaks in the country. Telangana reported 1,219 new cases every day on average over the last two weeks. In the two weeks before that, this number was just 352. This increase in new cases is reflected in the state’s doubling rate, which is defined as the average period it takes for a twofold rise, of 9.5 days — the second worst in the country after Karnataka (Chart 1). In fact, cases in the state are growing twice the rate they are across India (doubling rate of 20.4 days).
The state also fares the worst in the country in terms of the percentage of tests coming back positive with a positivity rate of 27.6%. This is nearly three times the national average in the same period — 9.8%. All positivity rates cited here are trailing averages for the week.
The positivity rate is particularly significant keeping in mind that the state has the second-worst testing rate in the country. It has tested only 3,284 samples for every million residents against the national average of 7,661. Only Bihar, with 2,210 tests per million, has fared worse (Chart 2).
With 20,535 Covid-19 cases and 1,419 deaths, Hyderabad has been the clear epicentre of the outbreak in the state (Chart 3A). The city is responsible for four out of every five cases reported across Telangana. Nearly 70% of all cases in Hyderabad have been reported in just the last two weeks, a statistic that highlights the abrupt rise in cases.
Karnataka has reported the fastest growth of cases in the country right now, and with 25,317 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, it is as the seventh worst-hit state in the country in terms of total cases. The state has a doubling rate of 8.5 days — the worst among the states analysed (Chart 1). Cases in the state have seen a massive spike particularly over the past 10 days. In the last two weeks, Karnataka reported 1,137 new cases every day as opposed to just 260 in the two weeks before that.
While Telangana has the highest positivity rate in the country, it is followed by Maharashtra (22%), Tamil Nadu (12%), Delhi (11%) and Gujarat (9.7). Karnataka is on the fifth spot with a positivity rate of 9.4%. With 10,978 tests conducted for every million residents, the state has fared much better than the national average of 7,661 tests per million (Chart 2).
But with 10,561 total Covid-19 cases till Tuesday, Bengaluru remains responsible for two out of every five cases in Karnataka (Chart 3B). It is by far the biggest epicentre in the state with Kalburgi on the second spot with one-tenth the caseload of Bengaluru — 1,699 cases.
OTHER KEY FINDINGS
Cases in Assam and Andhra Pradesh are growing significantly faster than the national average. To be sure, the two states have performed relatively well in terms of testing. Andhra Pradesh has conducted 19,798 tests per million while Assam has, 13,741, both significantly above the national average. The two states also have a low positivity rate — Andhra Pradesh has a rate of 4.3% and Assam 6.5%.
Though the doubling rate in Gujarat (fourth highest cases in the country) is more than 35 days, the high positivity rate in the state (9.7%) remains a cause of concern. This is particularly important if we take into account the relatively low number (7,100 tests a day over the past week, compared to 33,000 in Tamil Nadu, 27,000 in Maharashtra and 20,000 in Delhi in the same time period) of daily tests.