4 states that are defying dip in India’s Covid-19 cases

As daily cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) across India continue to dip, states such as Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been bucking the national trend, shows data analysed by HT. These four states all have fast-rising case numbers, rising positivity rates and the last three also test poorly.

To analyse the intensity of the outbreak and identify regions that are still displaying characteristics of growing outbreaks, HT analysed data from India’s 20 most populous regions, looking for three factors — a rising positivity rate, a high growth rate of daily cases, and low tests per million residents — that have marked all hot spots regions globally.

With the festive season starting and the winter approaching, it becomes all the more crucial that states across the country (and in particular states that face the immediate danger of becoming the next hot spots) monitor infection rates to stop the curve from rising again if people let their guard down during the celebrations.

RATE OF NEW INFECTIONS

The rate of increase in cases for a region is generally measured by what is known as doubling rate — the number of days it takes for the total infections in the region to double (the higher the number, the better). All states analysed have improved their doubling rate over between September 1 and October 15 – a statistic that is a reflection of how the national case curve has turned over the last month.

Other than Kerala, six states have performed worse than the national doubling rate average. At 37 days, Chhattisgarh has the second worst doubling rate and is followed by Madhya Pradesh (50 days), Rajasthan and Karnataka (53 days), West Bengal (57 days) and Odisha (69 days).

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Delhi’s doubling rate of 75 days is slightly better than the national average, but it features among the states with the least improvement (11 days). Only Kerala has improved less than the national capital. In early September, a similar analysis by HT found that Delhi had the highest doubling rate in the country (59 days).

POSITIVITY RATE AND TESTING

In six of the 20 states, the average positivity rate – the proportion of people testing positive to those tested – increased in the last month. The higher the positivity rate of a region, the more widespread the virus . According to WHO recommendations, the positivity rate in a region that has a comprehensive testing programme should be at or below 5% for at least two weeks before it can be considered that the outbreak is under control there.

Kerala again features as the worst performing states with 15.9% of all tests conducted in the last week coming back positive. The state’s seven-day average of positivity rate has worsened by 8.4 percentage points from September 1 – again the highest rise in the country.

Maharashtra, which had consistently been reporting the highest positivity rate in the country over the past three months, has seen the figure drop by 7.3 percentage points (from 21.1% to 13.8%). The western state, which has the highest number of cases in the country, still has the second highest proportion of tests returning positive in the last week.

Rajasthan saw the third highest positivity rate in the last week — 11.3%. For the week ending September 1, 6.1% of tests returned positive in the state. In Madhya Pradesh, the positivity rate worsened by 2 percentage point (from 5.7% on September 1 to 7.7% on October 15), while it worsened by 1.6 percentage points in West Bengal (from 7% to 8.6%).

On average, 6.1% of all tests in the country have come back positive over the past week.

Although the positivity rate has improved over the past 45 days in three states – Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh – all of them still have an average positivity rate over the last week higher than the national average: 9.5%, 8.9% and 6.4% respectively.

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In terms of testing, Madhya Pradesh remains the worst-performing state in the country, with 30,507 tests performed per million of the population, followed by West Bengal (39,844) against the national average of 71,892. Rajasthan comes third from the bottom (44,472 tests per million) followed by Chhattisgarh (51049 tests per million) and Uttar Pradesh (55,602).

Interestingly, the testing rate of Maharashtra (64,793 per million residents) has dropped below the national average – an alarming trend for a state with such a high caseload and one that has the worst positivity rate in the country.

Kerala, meanwhile, had performed well in this front with 107,527 tests performed per million residents in the state.

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