Amid the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India, there has been a drastic increase in active cases in states where elections have been taking place. The active Covid-19 cases in West Bengal and Kerala have doubled in a week between April 12 and April 19, Tamil Nadu has reported a 62 per cent increase, and for Assam the numbers have seen a 230 per cent jump. In the same period, India witnessed a surge of 60.64 per cent in active cases, while Maharashtra, the worst-affected state, reported an increase of 19.79 per cent.
Polling in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Kerala ended on April 6, while the last day of voting in West Bengal is April 29.
Since April 6, the active cases in Assam have jumped by more than 10 times, while in West Bengal it has increased by over four times. In Kerala, the active cases between April 6 and 19 went up by over three times and in Tamil Nadu about three times.
Between April 6 and 19, the active cases in India reported a jump of over two per cent and over one per cent for Maharashtra.
Since the beginning of the pandemic till April 6, Assam reported 2,18,740 Covid-19 cases. On April 19, this number reached 2,25,822 – over 7,000 cases since April 6. During the same period, the state reported 33 deaths.
It is important to note that Assam has dropped testing drastically during the polls. On March 17, the state conducted 13,204 tests. On March 28, and 29, a total of 5,332 tests were conducted. Only 7,075 tests were conducted on April 4. The assembly election ended in the state on April 6. On the day, it carried out 17,605 tests. By April 12, the testing in the state had increased to 1.02 lakh. However, it again dropped on April 18 as 23,300 samples were tested and 65,410 were tested on April 19.
Further, in about a 40-day period between February 8 and March 17, Assam reported 14 deaths and 643 cases. However, during the one-month period between March 17 and April 19, it reported 43 deaths and 7,950 cases.
Similarly, West Bengal, which had carried out 41,569 tests on December 15 and 30,560 tests on January 15, had reduced testing since the beginning of February. On February 1, the state conducted 18,168 tests. 13,370 samples were tested on March 15.
Also, between January 15 and March 15, West Bengal reported about 14,000 Covid-19 cases and 269 deaths. However, between March 15 and April 19, the state reported over 89,700 cases and 371 deaths despite low testing. West Bengal has conducted less than 46,000 tests per day during the past week. Further, between April 1 and 19, West Bengal reported a 13.62 per cent increase in total caseload with over 80,000 new cases.
Between April 12 and 19, West Bengal reported over 53,000 fresh cases and over 200 deaths. During the same period, Kerala reported 85,878 cases and 167 deaths, while for Tamil Nadu, it was 68,735 cases and 249 deaths.
Further, Tamil Nadu had reported about 8,000 cases and 50 deaths between March 1 and 15. That increased to 29,000 cases and 187 deaths between March 15 and April 1 – as the election campaigns were at the peak.
Also, between April 1 and April 19, the state has reported a jump of 1.13 lakh cases (a 12.71 per cent increase in total caseload) and 419 deaths.
Kerala reported a jump of 31,000 cases and 197 deaths between March 1 and 15. Between the next 15 days, the state reported 35,000 cases and 225 deaths. Between April 1 and 19, Kerala reported 1.26 lakh (an 11.18 per cent increase in total caseload) Covid-19 cases and 318 deaths.
In India, the Bihar assembly polls last year were the first elections held amid the pandemic. Polls were announced on September 25 for three phases – October 28, November 3 and 7.
By September 25, there were 881 Covid deaths in Bihar. By December 12, a month after the completion of the election, the toll was 1,312. Bihar had reported 431 deaths in 79 days.
As of April 16, Bihar had reported 1,688 Covid deaths: between December 12 and April 16, the state reported 376 deaths in about 135 days.
Also, Bihar had decreased its testing during the election phase.
On September 7, Bihar conducted 1.53 lakh Covid tests. On September 25, it carried out 1.64 lakh tests. However, during the elections, Bihar reduced the testing – 96,796 tests (October 11) and 94,000 tests (October 13).
The impact of the elections was seen on the total caseload of the state. Till September 23, Bihar had reported 1.73 lakh Covid cases. By October 30, this number was 2.15 lakh and by November 28, the state had reported 2.33 lakh Covid cases. In 66 days, Bihar reported 60,000 Covid cases.
Till April 16, Bihar had reported 3.07 lakh cases – about 74,000 cases in 140 days between November 28 and April 16.
While Tamil Nadu and Kerala went for polls in a single phase, there were three phases for Assam. West Bengal is having assembly polls in eight phases.
The counting of votes will be done on May 2.