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Data: What do the numbers from Maharashtra, Karnataka & Kerala say about the COVID-19 second wave?

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The 2nd wave of COVID-19 has been deadlier in India, to say the least. There has been a sharp increase in the number of daily cases which in turn has increased the need for beds, oxygen & other essential medicines. We take a look at the numbers from Maharashtra, Karnataka & Kerala to understand the trajectory in more detail.  

On 30 April 2021, India reported more than 4 lakh new COVID-19 cases. This is the first time since the beginning of the pandemic last year, that any country has reported more than 4 lakh cases in a single day. Over the past week, India is reporting an average of more than 3.5 lakh daily cases. In spite of this number being highest across the globe, experts opine that India has not yet reached the peak of the ongoing second wave and that the daily cases would continue to increase for the next few weeks. 

While the countrywide numbers of COVID-19 cases, related deaths etc. show a sharp increase, the trend is not the same across the States. Various states are at different phases of the second wave and hence have a different impact on the countrywide numbers. 

In this story, we analyze the COVID-19 trends in a few of the Indian States reporting higher numbers. For the analysis, we have relied on the consolidated information available on covid19india.org, which has sourced the information from the updates of the respective State Governments. We have also considered a 7-day average for the number of cases, recoveries as well as deaths to account for variations based on the day of the week.    

As per the 7-day average of daily confirmed cases, currently, Maharashtra reports the highest number of COVID-19 cases, followed by Karnataka, Kerala & Uttar Pradesh. Delhi, Tamil Nadu & West Bengal are among the other states which are currently reporting a higher number of daily COVID-19 cases. 

Here is a look at the trends in a few of the key States.

Maharashtra appears to have crossed its peak with a fall in COVID-19 cases since the last week of April 

Over both the first wave & second wave of the pandemic, Maharashtra has been the most affected state so far. Out of the nearly 2 crores cases reported in India so far, Maharashtra has accounted for 47.2 lakh COVID-19 cases i.e., nearly 24% of the total cases reported in India. 

The upsurge in the second wave of COVID-19 cases in India can be attributed to a large extent to the number of cases reported in Maharashtra. 

  • During mid-March 2021, when there were early signs of a second wave in the country, Maharashtra reported around 15-20 thousand cases in a day (7-day average). The highest single-day COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra was on 18 April 2021 when 68.8 thousand cases were reported in the state. 
  • During this period i.e., the third week of April 2021, the 7-day average of daily COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra was around 61-65 thousand cases, with the peak being around 65 thousand cases during the 23rd and 25th of April 2021. 
  • Since then, there has been a gradual fall in the number of cases in Maharashtra. The current 7-day average as highlighted is around 62 thousand daily cases. 

As for the number of deaths, there has been an increasing trend in the number of deaths being reported until recently. The highest number of single-day COVID-19 related deaths reported from Maharashtra was on 30 April, when over 1000 deaths were reported. The number of daily deaths has reduced since. 

At the same time, there is an increase in the number of recoveries. Since the last week of April 2021, there have been days when the number of recoveries is more than the number of new cases reported. As a 7-day average, the number of recoveries over the last few days is more than the number of new cases. 

The fall in the new cases reported is despite an increase in the number of tests being conducted in the state. On 01 May 2021, 2.89 lakh tests were conducted – the second-highest in a single day for Maharashtra. The fall in new cases despite an increase in the number of tests, increase in the number of daily recoveries and the early signs of fall in the number of deaths indicate that Maharashtra may have just crossed its peak of the second wave COVID-19 infection. However, these are still early days to come to any definitive conclusion. The trend in the next 1-2 weeks would be crucial for Maharashtra. 

While the number of daily cases being reported in Maharashtra has reduced in the last week, the same cannot be said about the overall numbers reported in the country.  We have observed that Maharashtra has been a major contributor to the national numbers. However, the fall in the numbers from Maharashtra has been compensated by the increase in the case numbers being reported from other states. States like Karnataka, Kerala, U.P & Delhi are reporting a higher number of COVID-19 cases with each passing day. While there is an increasing trend in the number of new cases, variances exist among these states with respect to – recoveries, deaths, tests conducted, etc. 

Karnataka has an increasing trend of Positivity rate and Deaths 

Currently, Karnataka is reporting the second-highest number of COVID -19 cases in the country after Maharashtra. Since the onset of the second wave in the country i.e., Mid-March’2021, there has been a consistent increase in the number of daily new cases in Karnataka. 

  • The cases positivity rate (CPR) has increased from 1.2% on 15 March to 20.7% as of 02 May 2021. While the number of tests conducted has increased, the CPR has also increased by more than 15-fold since the start of the second wave in the country. 

By mid-April 2021, the CPR was around 10% which doubled by the end of the month. This roughly translates to one positive case per every 5 tests being conducted on a daily basis.  

  • Meanwhile, there is a sharper increase in the number of deaths being reported. On 19 April 2021, Karnataka reported 148 deaths which incidentally was equal to the peak during the first wave. However, this is the beginning of an increasing trend in the number of reported deaths being reported daily. As of 02 May 2021, the 7-day average for the number of deaths in Karnataka is 226. 
  • There is also an increase in the number of daily recoveries, albeit not in proportion with the number of new cases being reported on a daily basis. 

In Kerala, although number of deaths remain lower, they have doubled in the last few days

Since mid-April 2021, there has been a sharp increase in the number of new cases being reported in Kerala. Overall, Kerala has reported the second-highest number of total cases in India with 16.38 lakh cases to date.  

  • During mid-April 2021, Kerala began reporting around 10 thousand cases daily. By the last week of April, the average number of daily cases increased to around 20 thousand cases which further increased to around 30 thousand daily cases by end of the month. 
  • Compared to Karnataka, the number of deaths reported in Kerala is lower. However, it ought to be noted that the number of deaths doubled in the recent few days compared to the last week of April 2021.
  • During this period i.e., 15 March 2021 – 02 May 2021, there has been an increase in the CPR from around 3.4% to 24.7% i.e., every fourth test is being reported as a positive case in Kerala currently. 

The higher positivity rate in both Karnataka & Kerala indicates the extent of the spread of COVID-19 in these states. The increase in the number of COVID-19 cases is not necessarily due to the increase in the tests, but due to the wider spread among the population. The proportionate increase in the number of cases is higher compared to the increase in tests. 

Karnataka & Kerala are among the states which traditionally have better health infrastructure compared to the other states.  The recent increase in the number of deaths even in these states points to the severity of the second wave of infection and potentially overwhelming of the existing infrastructure. 

In the next story, we take a look at few more states including U.P, Bihar, West Bengal, A.P, Telangana among others to understand the trends. 

Featured Image: COVID-19 second wave

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