The spread of India’s 10 million Covid-19 cases
The number of people confirmed to have been infected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India crossed the 10 million mark on Friday, about 10 months after the pandemic started spreading in the country. The confirmed cases have been reported from almost all states, but are largely concentrated in a select few districts.
50% of cases from 47 districts
At least half of the confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported from only 47 of India’s 700-plus districts, according to a Hindustan Times analysis of data compiled by How India Lives. Delhi’s 11 revenue districts have been clubbed together into one single unit for this analysis because the Delhi government does not release disaggregated figures. These 46 districts are spread across 16 states and Union territories. Delhi, as one single unit, has the highest caseload, 6.3% of the country’s total cases, followed by Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Thane, and Chennai. These six urban centres have together reported more than two million confirmed infections, nearly 22% of the country’s total. The Covid-19 related deaths are even more skewed. At least 50% of deaths have been reported from only 24 districts.
A majority of the country’s districts have reported less than 5,000 cases so far, while there are only 11 districts which have reported more than 100,000 confirmed cases. While these 11 districts are home to 7.8% of India’s population, they account for nearly 28% of the total confirmed cases so far.
Urban to slightly rural, to urban again
The coronavirus pandemic first started spreading in India from highly urban areas such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. It later spread to the hinterland as the country opened up from a complete lockdown and people started travelling. This led to a surge of cases in rural areas. In May and June, 45% of all new cases were reported from 16 entirely urban districts (where more than 80% people live in urban areas). Entirely rural districts (where more than 80% people live in rural areas) reported only about 12% of new cases in these two months. This changed with time. In August, only about 13% new cases came from the entirely urban districts while more than 20% cases came from the entirely rural districts. However, the trend seems to be reversing now with the share of cases rising in urban areas again. In November, nearly 25% of new cases came from the entirely urban districts.
This has happened even as the number of new cases, which peaked in September, has significantly dropped across India. The drop in cases is way steeper in the less urban regions compared to the entirely urban districts. Entirely urban districts reported the least number of new cases in September but the highest number of new cases in November.
Trajectory in urban areas
Recent trends from most of these districts show that cases are actually on a decreasing trend. For example, Delhi has recently passed its third wave of cases; and cases in other districts such as Bangalore, Kamrup Metropolitan (Guwahati, Assam) and Chennai have also significantly decreased.