Delhi and Mumbai, on the other hand, have a lower death rate of 2.9% and 3.4%, respectively.
While rising infection levels in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai — the three cities account for 40% of India’s Covid-19 infections — have grabbed headlines, Ahmedabad is rapidly emerging as potentially even more worrying. Along with Kolkata, it has among the highest Covid death rates in the country; Kolkata has a death rate of 9%, whereas Ahmedabad records seven deaths for every 100 cases. Delhi and Mumbai, on the other hand, have a lower death rate of 2.9% and 3.4%, respectively. A high death rate is evidence of either overall infection levels being suppressed — as the base increases, the death rate comes down — or of very poor hospital facilities and health management of the infected.
More worrying, the death rate in Ahmedabad rose to 7.1% on Tuesday, from 5% a month ago, which means that deaths have been rising faster than the cases. It is no surprise then that Ahmedabad despite having lower cases per million — 1,797 per million people as against 3,316 in Mumbai and 3,229 in Chennai — has the highest death rate among the country’s top cities. Ahmedabad recorded 128 deaths per million, against 113 in Mumbai, 43 in Delhi and 31 in Chennai.
In terms of testing, Ahmedabad does not perform any better. Even though it has tested 11,254 persons per million till date, this is still much lower than 16,903 tests by Chennai, and 14,352 by Mumbai. Indeed, given that Ahmedabad records 22 new Covid infections for every 100 people it tests, there is a very good reason for increased testing in the city.
The situation worsens once you take into account the Covid bed availability. Ahmedabad has 12 Covid hospital beds for every 100 people. This ratio is 27 in Delhi, and 19 in Mumbai. Although data for utilisation is not available for all days, on June 1, Ahmedabad had reported 1,931 hospitalised cases, a near full capacity. So should infection levels rise, as they will given Ahmedabad’s infections are half those of Mumbai — indeed, both Delhi and Mumbai are likely to see levels rising manifold from those right now — the city won’t have enough beds; even now, it is struggling to cope.
While the data suggests Kolkata is not facing any shortage of beds, the non-availability of data from the city is a big worry. At 202 per million people, the city’s Covid infections are a tenth of Ahmedabad’s, making the numbers quite unbelievable. In terms of Covid beds per million people, Kolkata has only 174 beds per million as against 618 in Mumbai and 399 in Delhi. Once again, that makes the city particularly vulnerable once infection levels start rising. Both cities need to plan hospital capacity, and not leave it too late, as Delhi and Mumbai appear to have done.