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Starting in January, How India’s Covid-19 Trajectory Escalated from 1 to 10 Lakh Cases

A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a woman during a medical campaign for the coronavirus disease. (Reuters)

A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a woman during a medical campaign for the coronavirus disease. (Reuters)

From its first reported case, India took 58 days to record 1,000 cases. It crossed 10,000 in another 16 days. From there to 1,00,000 was breached in 35 days. Since then the number of days to add an additional lakh cases has gone down.

India reported its first Covid-19 case on January 30 when a medical student who returned to Kerala from Wuhan in China tested positive.

Five and a half months later, on the 16th of July, the country breached one million cases mark, becoming only the third nation after USA and Brazil to cross the infamous landmark.

We analyse India’s Covid-19 journey thus far.

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THE JOURNEY

From its first reported case, India took 58 days to record 1,000 cases. It crossed 10,000 in another 16 days. From there to 1,00,000 was breached in 35 days. Since then the number of days to add an additional lakh cases has progressively gone down.

India had a total of 571 cases and 10 fatalities when it imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25. After 68 days of the stringent curbs, the country reported a cumulative 1,90,648 cases and 5,408 deaths on May 31. The most significant impact of the lockdown was that it helped keep the mortality numbers low. It also gave the authorities time to ramp up health infrastructure and medical facilities to prepare for the future.

The number of cases has risen dramatically by more than five times post the lockdown. The increase in the number of deceased has been comparatively slower.

While India reported 1,90,077 cases and 5,398 Covid-19 deaths during the 68 days of the lockdown, it has registered 4.29 times the number of cases and 3.74 times the number of fatalities in just 46 days after the lifting of curbs and restrictions from June 1.

The lockdown phase accounted for 19 per cent of the country’s total cases, 21 per cent of the total deaths over 40 per cent of the total virus-period in India.

India has reported 4,19,845 cases (almost 42 per cent of the total case-load) in the first 16 days of July itself. It has seen more than 25,000 daily cases for 9 continuous days since July 8.

However, despite the case-load, in terms of Cases Per 1 Million Population, which is a better indicator of measuring the spread of the virus, India with 728 cases per 1 million of its population, is second to China (58) amongst the worst affected 25 countries (in terms of case-load).

TESTING AND POSITIVITY RATE

India ramped up its testing to above 1 lakh per day from May 18. From June 23 to the July 13, the country tested more than two lakh samples per day post which more than three lakh daily tests are being conducted.

India’s Cumulative Positivity Rate has risen from 3.86 per cent on April 30 to 4.97 per cent on May 31 to 6.64 per cent on June 30 to 7.89 per cent on July 16. This basically means one in every 13 people tested in the country are emerging Covid-19 positive.

India finds itself clustered among the better performing countries on this count. It ranks at number 10 among the 25 worst affected countries in the world.

10 CITIES CONTRIBUTE TO 52% CASES AND 65% DEATHS

Covid-19 in India has essentially been an urban big-city pandemic.

Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the nine of the 10 worst affected cities (in terms of case-load) – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata are either state capitals or big urban metropolitan centres. Palghar, the only exception, is at number 10.

These cities account for more than half (51.67 per cent) of the total Covid-19 cases and 65 per cent of the total fatalities in the country.

But lately, cases have risen in a number of rural districts in the country and this will be a cause of worry for the authorities.

LOW MORTALITY RATE AND TESTS PER DEATH

There have been 19 Covid-19 deaths in India per 1 million population. China (3) and Bangladesh (15) are the only two countries among the 25 analysed that report a lower number. Just for perspective, the corresponding number for South Africa is 79, Russia – 82, Germany – 109, Mexico – 286, Brazil – 361, USA – 426, Italy – 579, Spain – 608 and UK – 664.

India’s Mortality Rate of 2.55 per cent places it favourably when compared with most of the other major nations of the world.

Despite its size and population, economic constraints and other challenges, its Mortality Rate is less than half of China’s and significantly and several times better than most developed Western European nations. Italy (14.37 per cent), UK (15.42 per cent) and France (17.34 per cent) have the worst Mortality Rate amongst the 25 countries.

India’s Mortality Rate rose to a high of 3.43 per cent on May 6 post which it saw a decline till June 8 (2.78 per cent). Post the lockdown, it again went up to 2.89 per cent on June 16 before rocketing to 3.36 per cent on June 17 due to a revision of backlog of deaths. However, since then, it has been on a consistent downward curve and currently stands at 2.55 per cent.

India has conducted 497 Tests Per Covid-19 Death. This is substantially better than most of the major nations of the world. The corresponding ratio for USA is 324, UK – 281, Italy – 174, France – 86, Brazil – 64 and Mexico – 21.

Containing the number of Covid-19 fatalities has been one of India’s most remarkable achievements during the pandemic even as the number of cases soars past 1 million.

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first published:July 18, 2020, 09:21 IST