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Data: COVID-19 cases in India in Numbers

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The number of COVID-19 cases in India has crossed 30 thousand. While the number of new cases has been increasing on a day-to-day basis, the doubling rate of cases has slowed down. Here is a brief summary of the trend of COVID-19 cases in India so far in terms of numbers.

The first COVID-19 positive case in India was reported on 30 January 2020, in Kerala. The patient was a student who has returned from Wuhan, China. On 15 March 2020 i.e. after one and a half month, the total number of positive cases crossed 100.

By the end of March, India had more than 1000 COVID-19 positive cases. Prior to this, a Nationwide lockdown was announced on 24 March 2020, which was extended to 03 May 2020, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases.

As on 28 April 2020, there are more than 29 thousand positive cases reported in the country with more than 21 thousand active cases. The number of tests being conducted was ramped up over the period of time and till date, approximately 7.16 lakh samples were tested for COVID-19.

The opinion is divided, and the debate is ongoing on the effectiveness of implementing the lockdown and the various measures taken by the central and state governments to contain the spread. In this context, we take a look at the numbers relating to COVID-19 in India over the period of time and analyse the trends. The data provided by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) is considered for this story.

More than 20-fold increase in the number of positive cases in the month of April 2020

As highlighted earlier, the first case in India was reported on 30  January 2020. Only 2 other new cases were detected in the month of February.  The first significant increase in the number of positive cases was on 10 March when 41 new cases were reported.

The initial set of cases were reported in the states of Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi and Telangana. By the time the national lockdown was announced on 24 March 2020, the total number of cases crossed 500. After the first week of lockdown i.e. by the end of March, the total number of cases more than doubled with around 1350 positive cases.

The month of April saw an exponential rise in the number of cases. As on the morning of 28 April, a total of 29,435 positive cases are reported i.e. the number of cases has increased by more than 20 times compared to the number of cases at the beginning of the month.

To ensure consistency, the numbers used here are taken from the data reported on the MOHFW website every morning.

COVID-19 cases in India_CUmulative total number of COVID-19 cases in India

More than 1000 new cases were reported daily in the last 10 days

The first significant jump in the number of new cases was on 10 March with 41 new cases. It was followed by a 10-day period of relatively fewer new cases. However,  a gradual increase in numbers was observed from 21 March. On 24 March, for the first time, 100 new cases in a day were reported.

Since the beginning of April, the daily number of new cases reached the 3-digit mark with a gradual increase on most of the ensuing days. More than 500 new cases in a day first happened on 04 April, when 619 new cases were reported. More than 1000 new cases in a single day were reported for the first time on 11 April (1035 cases). This was followed by a few days of comparatively fewer new cases and inconsistency in the number of new cases.

However, from 19 April, more than 1000 new cases have been reported each day. So far, the highest number of new cases in a single day was on 26 April when 1,990 new cases were reported.

COVID-19 cases in India_number of new COVID-19 cases in India every day

Decrease in the share of Active cases over time

While the total number of COVD-19 positive cases indicate the extent of the spread of disease, the number of active cases is a sign of the efforts to be put in by the administration and the health care support system.

One of the main intentions behind imposing a lockdown is to reduce the number of new cases and contain the spread. This was done so as to reduce the pressure on the healthcare support system to treat active cases.

As on 28 April 2020, there are a total of 21,632 active cases as per the information provided by MOHFW. At the beginning of April, there were less than 1000 active cases across the country, i.e. as in the case of total positive cases, even the active cases have grown more than 20-fold during the month of April.

COVID-19 cases in India_CUmulative total number of active COVID-19 cases in India

While the number of active cases has seen an increase, their share in the total number of cases reported as on date shows a declining trend.  During the first week of April, i.e. the time when the total number of positive cases have started to increase substantially, the percentage of active cases among the total positive cases hovered around 90s and the higher 80s. However, from the second week, the share of active cases started to taper down to the lower 80s by the end of the third week of April.

The numbers on 21 April suggest that the share of active cases fell to less than 80%. As on the morning of 28 April, the total number of active cases is 72% of the total COVID-19 positive cases that have been detected so far in India.  The fall in the share of active cases despite the increase in the new cases is due to the number of closed cases.  The cases are closed due to two reasons, either the person recovers or is dead.

COVID-19 cases in India_Share of active COVID-19 cases in India in total number of cases

23% of the total Covid-19 positive cases cured till date

As on 28 April 2020, a total of 6869 patients who were COVID-19 positive were cured and discharged from the hospitals. Recovery of the patients is a key indicator that helps us understand the nature of the virus as well as the treatment protocol being followed in the hospitals.

The first instance of patients being cured was reported on 13 March 2020, when 3 cases were recorded as recovered. On 11 April, for the first time, more than 100 patients were reported to be discharged in a day. A total of 139 patients were discharged on that day.  26 April 2020 has seen the highest number of patients discharged in a day with 741. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Rajasthan are among the states that have recorded higher number of recovered patients (also because of the higher number of positives) with Kerala on the top when it comes to the proportion of cured patients among the positive cases.

COVID-19 cases in India_number of cured COVID-19 patients in India every day

The fatality rate of COVID-19 cases in India is around 3%

So far, the highest number of deaths in a day was reported on 28 April 2020 when 62 deaths were reported in a single day. In total, as per the details provided by MOHFW on 28 April, a total of 934 deaths of COVID-19  patients were reported in India. This is approximately 3% of the total positive cases in India.

The first death due to COVID-19 was reported on 13 March 2020. While Maharashtra reported the highest number of deaths, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have a higher fatality rate compared to others. Barring 4 days, every other day in April have reported deaths in double digits. The second half of April has seen an increase in the number of deaths per day.

COVID-19 cases in India_number of deaths per day

Number of Samples Tested increased 25 times within the last one month

Models followed in South Korea and New Zealand reflect the importance of proactive testing to identify the cases of COVID-19.  There is criticism from multiple quarters that the testing rates in India are very low, and that there is a possibility of a greater incidence of the infection than what is being actually detected. Factly has earlier written on the strategies followed by different countries across the world. The Government of India has put in place the testing strategy to be followed in India.

Prior to April, the total number of tests conducted was on the lower side. As per the available data, there were only 27,688 samples were tested as on 27 March 2020. Since then, the number of samples tested has exponentially increased. As on 28 April 2020,  more than 7.16 lakh samples were tested. This is around 519 samples per million population.

Although this is a substantial improvement compared to the situation in March, it is still lower than many of the countries. (Note : Data on samples tested was not available on MOHFW between 28-03-2020 and 07-04-2020).

Slowdown in the doubling rate of COVID-19 positive cases

The spread of COVID-19 across the globe is marked by the rapid rate of its spread. The spike in the number of cases in Italy and Spain and the rapid increase in the humongous numbers currently being reported out of the USA are examples of the rapid spread.

While the number of new positive cases gives an idea of the increase in the number of cases, there are other metrics being used by experts around the world to understand the spread of disease. One such is the doubling rate. In simpler terms, it refers to the time taken for the number of cases to double. If the time taken for the numbers to double is less, it indicates the situation is more prone to an outbreak, whereas more time taken is an indication of the slowdown of the spread.

While the actual number of cases may skew the analysis (especially in case of lower numbers), the nature of the spread of contagious disease is validated based on the doubling rates.

For this analysis, the day of about 100 cases is taken as the reference point to calculate doubling rates. As on 15 March, a total of 93 cases were reported in India. It took 5 days for these numbers to double i.e. as on 20 March there were 195 cases.

The next doubling was quicker as it happened in just 3 days, which reduced to about 4 days to reach approximately 800 cases. The next three stages of doubling took 4,4, and 5 days respectively.

The rate of doubling further slowed down when the cases doubled from 6,400 to 12000 odd in 6 days. The next doubling from 12,800 cases to around more than 25,000 took more than 9 days.  It does seem that the doubling rate has decreased which means the number of days needed for the cases to double has increased. This could be because of the extended lockdown across the country.

COVID-19 cases in India_number of days for doubling

Increasing numbers with a slower doubling rate present an unclear picture

The trajectory of COVID-19 in India is still unclear. While some expect lakhs of cases in the months to come, others expect a slowdown. The direction will be clear when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Though the number of new cases has gradually increased over the past couple of weeks, the doubling rate has slowed down. Hence the trajectory remains unpredictable.  

Similarly, the effectiveness of the lockdown can be gauged only when the lockdown is lifted and the number of new cases during those times is assessed. It is also possible that the higher numbers during April are due to the increase in testing capacity.  

Furthermore, the scenario is not even across the country. Few states like Kerala have been fairly successful at containing the spread despite high numbers early on. States like Maharashtra and Rajasthan are among the states which in spite of the higher positive cases are also recording higher recovery rates. Meanwhile, the numbers are starting to increase in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh & Uttar Pradesh which are among the most populous states of India.

Featured Image: COVID-19 cases in India

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