Daily Covid-19 caseload crosses 16K mark after 40 days

India's daily Covid-19 caseload crosses 16,000 mark after 40 days

Despite the rising cases, experts are not yet describing the phenomenon as a 'second wave' yet

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a passenger for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) Covid-19 test at the railway station in New Delhi. Credit: AFP Photo

After a hiatus of 40 days, India’s daily Covid-19 count crossed the 16,000 mark once again on Thursday riding high on the rise in cases in nine out top 20 most populous states in the last one week.

The sharpest rise in the seven-day average of daily new cases has been seen in Maharashtra where counts have more than doubled – from roughly 2,300 on Feb 11 to over 6,600 on Feb 24.

Such increases have jacked up India's average daily counts from about 11,000 two weeks ago to over 16,700 currently.

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According to the Union Health Ministry, 16,738 people were infected by the SARS-CoV-2 in the last 24 hours. It was on January 16 when more than 16,000 people were infected last time. Moreover, 138 people were killed in the last 24 hours.

Nearly 90% of these new Covid-19 cases are from seven states - Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Central teams have been sent to each of these states along with West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir to probe.

The rise came as a surprise to many experts as the caseload was moving south in the entire country barring Kerala since mid-September.

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But notwithstanding the large numbers, Kerala is witnessing a declining trend in the number of fresh cases whereas the epidemic curve is clearly on the rise in Maharashtra, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.

While experts highlighted the need to conduct detailed epidemiology and viral investigations to understand the reason behind the increase, they are not yet describing the phenomenon as a “second wave” yet.

“A second wave of a virus typically refers to a resurgence of a viral infection after a period of low transmission below the outbreak potential. The number of new cases will have to continually increase over a certain period,” Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India told DH.

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“Although the reproduction number (R, which denotes the infectivity of the virus) for the country appears to have crossed above 1, it is too early to infer it is a second wave yet. We need to see if the increase in cases sustains steadily over at least 2-3 weeks with an R-value above 1.5,” he added.

Meanwhile, more than 1.3 crore people have received the vaccine till Thursday, of which 65.82 lakh are health care workers who got the first dose and 18.61 lakh are health care workers who received both the doses. In addition, 46.24 lakh front line staff were also inoculated.

The Centre has announced starting the vaccination for the general population from March 1.

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