India coronavirus numbers explained, Oct 4: So what is powering the drop in Covid-19 cases?

The last few days have thrown up very interesting numbers, for which no good explanation seems to be available right now.

The number of new detections of coronavirus infections in India fell further down on Saturday. Less than 76,000 people were found positive on Saturday, about three thousand less than the number on Friday, which itself was the lowest in a month that had not been caused by low testing. Follow coronavirus pandemic LIVE updates

The last few days have thrown up very interesting numbers, for which no good explanation seems to be available right now. The new detections have dropped off significantly, but not because of any significant reduction in testing numbers. The number of samples being tested across the country is roughly the same as second and third week of September, when more than 90,000 cases were getting reported every day. And yet, in the last one week, less than 80,000 new cases have been discovered every day on an average.

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That would seem like a very welcome development, but it is not clear what exactly is powering this decline. People’s movement and interactions would only have increased, not gone down, during this time. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that adoption of face masks and adherence to physical distancing measures are far from being universal. And the disease prevalence in the community, as measured by the sero-survey results, do not indicate to have reached levels from where the epidemic would be expected to begin its decline.

Since the testing numbers have also remained stable, there is no obvious reason for the decline in numbers. And it is also not a day or two of aberration, but has persisted long enough to be considered a trend. In fact, it is one full month now without a major surge in numbers, the longest period of relative stability in the epidemic in India so far.

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As a result of this decline in daily numbers, the growth rate has dropped off rapidly in the last few days. As of now, the coronavirus cases in India are growing only at 1.28 per cent per day. Several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, have seen their growth rates drop below one per cent a day.

In fact, there are only five states, including those with relatively small caseloads, which are growing at more than two per cent right now. The most problematic state obviously is Kerala right now where the growth rate is over 4 per cent a day. On Friday, the state had reported over 9,200 new cases, its highest ever. It came down below 8,000 on Saturday. The state has added over 53,000 new cases in the last one week, more than any other state except Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The case count in Pune has gone past 3 lakh cases now. The city has more cases than most of the states. Only five states have higher caseloads. The new detections in Pune have also been showing an important decline, though the city is still reporting between 2,000 and 3,000 cases every day. But considering that more than 5,000 cases were emerging from the city a couple of weeks ago, this is a big improvement. Again, this decline is not a result in any significant reduction in the number of tests being carried out.

More than 82,000 people were declared to have recovered from the disease on Saturday, which was higher than the new detections, thus leading to a further drop in active cases. In the last two weeks, the active cases in the country have reduced by about 80,000.

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The total number of confirmed infections in the country has reached 65.49 lakh, of which more than 55 lakh, or about 84 per cent, have already recovered from the disease. The death count is more than 1.1 lakh now.

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