The spread of Covid-19 in India continues unabated. Over the past six months, the number of confirmed cases has grown to over 28 lakh in the country, the highest in the world after the US and Brazil.
While new infections continue to mushroom in various parts of India, when we calculated the rate of growth over a 10-day rolling period, it was higher in places such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Goa, Bihar and Punjab. On the other hand, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura were among the regions that recorded the lowest growth rate.
Past their peak stages
The number of new cases registered over a 10-day rolling period in Delhi was 1150 per cent in April. It slid to 72 per cent in June and further down to 7 per cent in August. It registered a 10-day rolling growth rate of 6.9 per cent on August 16, the lowest among all states and Union Territories.
Likewise, Gujarat saw the growth rate of new cases shoot up to 490 per cent in April, moderate at 25 per cent in June and tumble to 15 per cent in August. As on the 16th of this month, it recorded a rolling growth rate of 14.4 per cent, the lowest after Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu, the number of new cases registered over a 10-day period was 1800 per cent in April. It fell to 57 per cent in June and moderated to 19 per cent in August. It recorded a rolling growth rate of 18.6 per cent on August 16, among the lowest recorded.
“It can be argued that Gujarat, Delhi and most parts of Tamil Nadu are past their peak in cases. This may reflect, in the cases of Gujarat and Haryana, reducing contribution from the more dense, urbanised regions of Gurugram and Ahmedabad, both of which saw a good number of cases earlier,” says Gautam Menon, Professor of Physics and Biology, Ashoka University.
“I would think that the epidemic is in an earlier stage in the states and UTs (ignoring the smaller ones) where the growth rate is high vis-a-vis those where it is low, where arguably the numbers of those infected are already so high that further progress of the epidemic is severely retarded,” he said.
High growth regions
The number of new cases registered over a 10-day period in the Andaman and Nicobar islands was 163 per cent in April. It fell to 0 per cent in June and spiked again to 209 per cent in August. As on the 16th of this month, it recorded a rolling growth rate of 96.3 per cent, the highest among all States and Union Territories in the country.
Likewise, Goa registered a 10-day growth rate of 600 per cent in May, which slid to 430 per cent in June and moderated at 48 per cent in August. Puducherry’s graph is no different. The number of cases spiked to 400 per cent in April, then fell to 203 per cent in June. On August 16, its 10-day rolling growth rate stood at 59 per cent.
For Bihar, the growth rate stood at 866 per cent in April, then slid to 64 per cent in June and further down to 44 per cent on August 16 - among the highest recorded.
Increasing testing levels
Himanshu Sikka, lead, health, nutrition and WASH, IPE Global, an international development consultancy company, said that Bihar increasing its testing in the last few weeks compared to what it was doing earlier, its low awareness levels about the pandemic and healthcare infrastructure not being adequate could be among the reasons for its higher growth rate.
Bihar’s testing levels shot up from a mere 22,000 in April to two lakh in June to over 18 lakh in August. Over the past couple of weeks alone, the cumulative testing figures for the State surged over 200 per cent.
Lower base values
Experts said that for places such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Goa and Puducherry, the number of confirmed cases are not as high as compared to the other States, and because their base value is low, even a small spike could lead to high growth rates.
“The population of Andaman and Nicobar is much less than a million; that of Puducherry a little above. Because of this small base population, growth rates may seem alarming, but this is probably not something to worry about,” said Menon, adding, “Chandigarh's growth is likely to be a result of a relaxation of lockdown procedures as well as the large traffic it sees from surrounding areas. I would definitely be more worried about Bihar and Punjab, where the test positivity is quite large; indicating that proper control over spread is not being maintained.”