Coronavirus outbreak in India: More testing equals more infections

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Published: May 20, 2020 1:30:51 AM

What is worrying, however, is the sharp increase in the infection levels, both for the country as well as for some individual states.

In the case of Maharashtra that accounts for 35% of the country’s infections, the infection levels were 9.6 in Lockdown 2 and this rose sharply to 13.3 in Lockdown 3; and then to 21.4 in the first two days of Lockdown 4.In the case of Maharashtra that accounts for 35% of the country’s infections, the infection levels were 9.6 in Lockdown 2 and this rose sharply to 13.3 in Lockdown 3; and then to 21.4 in the first two days of Lockdown 4.

Till now, most argued India consistently showed an infection rate – those testing positive as a proportion of those being tested – of around 4%. That was, of course, always a reason for more testing since a 10-fold rise in tests would show a 10-fold rise in the number infected; from an average of 14,779 tests per day during Lockdown 1, India did 101,475 tests on Tuesday.

What is worrying, however, is the sharp increase in the infection levels, both for the country as well as for some individual states. And this is when, even today, the testing protocol is still tilted towards those that show outward symptoms or who have been in contact with infected persons; large-scaled pooled community tests are still not being done.

Between the first and third lockdowns, the infection levels were, in fact, remarkably steady for the country; 4.5, 3.4 and 4.3 respectively. But in the first two days of Lockdown 4, the number has risen sharply for India, to 5.9.

It is much worse for some states. In the case of Maharashtra that accounts for 35% of the country’s infections, the infection levels were 9.6 in Lockdown 2 and this rose sharply to 13.3 in Lockdown 3; and then to 21.4 in the first two days of Lockdown 4.

For Tamil Nadu that accounts for 12% of the country’s infections, the really sharp rise took place in Lockdown 3 when the infection levels rose to 4.5 from 1.2 in Lockdown 2; they rose to 4.9 in the first two days of Lockdown 4.

Another worrying state is Bihar, though that accounts for a very small share of the country’s total right now. Infection levels there have more than doubled, from 3.5 in Lockdown 3 to 7.8 in the first two days of Lockdown 4. If, as anecdotal evidence suggests, there is a sharp increase in infection levels for migrants that are coming back, this is worrying since the state had 80 lakh emigrants in 2011 according to the Census and that number should have risen considerably in the following decade.

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