Coronavirus cases in rural India: With over 60,000 fresh Covid-19 cases every day for 3-4 days now, India has the highest number of fresh infections in the world; it is number three in terms of total cases. But what is even more worrying is that the infections are fast moving towards rural and semi-urban areas. On August 10, rural and semi-urban centres accounted for 47% of fresh infections, or almost double their share as compared to a month ago.
Fresh infections in semi-urban regions rose faster than those in rural areas, from 13.3% of the country’s total infection a month ago to 27.3% on August 10. The urban share of new infections during this period fell from 75% to 53% (see graphic).
In terms of new deaths, rural areas are growing faster than any other areas. While the share of urban areas in fresh daily deaths fell to 69.7% on August 10, from 84.2% a month ago, that for semi-urban areas rose to 18.5% from 10.1%. The share of rural areas, however, more than doubled to 11.8% from 5.7% earlier.
In terms of total infections – not just fresh infections – rural and semi-urban regions now account for over a one-third of total cases.
They accounted for a 20% share a month back. By the month-end, rural and semi-urban regions may account for nearly half of total infections.
This is worrisome as health facilities in rural and semi-urban regions are not as good as urban areas. As Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran pointed out in a recent lecture, only a third of India’s doctors are to be found in rural areas. In which case, should the infections require hospitalisation, there will not be enough facilities to look after patients.
India does not classify districts as rural or urban. Any district with more than 30% urban population-share has been classified by FE as ‘urban’ in keeping with the average urban-rural share for the country. Districts that have between 20-30% urban population have been classified as ‘semi-urban’.