Experts on Monday differed on the possible peaking of Covid-19 cases in Karnataka. While two of them opined that cases will plateau in early May, IISc professors, however, cautioned that cases are likely to hit the 10-lakh mark by the end of May with the peak unlikely till early June.
Prof Dr Giridhar R Babu, member of the TAC on Covid-19 and Sanjeev Mysore, convener of Jeevan Raksha Project, said the state is likely to hit the peak in the next 12 days.
The projection by IISc’s Prof Shashikumar Ganesan and Prof Deepak Subramani, indicated that the number of active cases in Karnataka will go up from the current 2.9 lakh to 11 lakh by May 31.
“Prior to the curfew orders, we were hoping that the peak for Bengaluru could be around latter part of the second week in May. However, with the state government waking up to the threat and imposing Covid curfew will definitely have an impact on the spread of the disease. Due to this, Bengaluru may witness peak load of cases by the end of May first week and subsequently the curve is expected to plateau,” he said.
However, he cautioned that it would depend on how the government will open up the sectors. “If you throw open everything, then the cases may again surge and if it is in a phased manner, the curve will be more or less steady,” he added.
The projection of next six weeks of cases by a data-driven approach adopted by Prof Shashikumar Ganesan, chairman of the department of Computational and Data Sciences (CDS) and Prof Deepak Subramani, IISc, indicated tough days ahead.
As per the projection, even with a 15-day total lockdown (not the liberal “curfew”), the number of active Covid cases in Karnataka will go up from the current 2.9 lakh to 11.6 lakh (including 6.2 lakh from Bengaluru alone) by May 31, if the state goes for unlock mode. Without a lockdown, it would be double the number, well over 22 lakh (including 10.69 lakh from Bengaluru) The chart showed that a 30-day lockdown will help contain the active case number at 5.29 lakh by May 31.
The numbers, the experts said, are based on scenario analysis which takes into account variables such as severity of the infection, age distribution in the population, vaccination levels, sero-prevalence at different locations and time.
Prof Ganesan said there were several variables at play in the second wave. “First, the Covid appropriate behaviour has come down. Secondly, unlike the last-year’s lockdown that cut the interstate travel, we will have trains and domestic fights. Thirdly, the crucial contact tracing has weakened, which allows many cases to slip through and multiply,” he said.
He said the lockdown in March could have effectively put brakes on the surging cases and prevented the high stress on health infrastructure.
Sanjeev Mysore, convener of Jeevan Raksha Project, echoed Dr Babu’s optimistic view and said the state is likely to hit the peak in the next 12 days.
“Human behaviour, emotions and fear play a vital role in pandemic. Last couple of weeks people have witnessed sufferings, especially in media. This has significant impact on their Covid appropriate behaviour. Along with this, the state government has initiated stringent measures to curb the spread of virus. In this backdrop, I believe we are edging towards the peak and should start seeing southward movement of daily cases not later than mid May,” he said.