Coronavirus | Speed of virus infections slows, doubling time rises in 18 States

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-union-helath-ministry-press-conference-on-april-20-2020/article31389395.ece

Eighteen States and Union Territories have “shown improvement” in containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Odisha and Kerala leading the pile, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday.

 

These were States with a ‘doubling time’ (an indicator of how quickly cases increase) of more than 8.5 days and thus “above” the national average of 7.5 days. This was due to effective measures taken to contain the spread of the virus, Joint Secretary in the Ministry Lav Agrawal said at the daily briefing. Kerala has led the States with a doubling rate of 72 days followed at a considerable distance by Odisha at 39.8 days, according to the numbers.

Also read: Coronavirus | Confusion over mismatch in Health Ministry, ICMR figures

Longer doubling times have helped stagger the burden on healthcare facilities and improve recovery.

The Ministry confirmed 17,655 cases with 14,255 active infections and 559 deaths on Monday. 

However, the Ministry’s doubling numbers eclipse the fact that these States account for only about 7,000 of India’s overall COVID-19 count. On the other hand, just five States with a doubling rate less than the national average account for about 10,000 or about 60% of the case-load. 

 

As of Monday, Maharashtra had the highest number of cases at 4,400 and it reported a doubling of cases in six days. Gujarat’s 1,800 cases had doubled in 4.5 days and Madhya Pradesh with 1,407 cases had a doubling in 5.5 days.

These numbers are dynamic and liable to change everyday. The epidemic has affected 32 of 36 India’s States and Union Territories. Delhi (8.5) and Tamil Nadu (14) were also included in the Health Ministry’s list of regions that had doubling times under 20 days but these were also among the leading contributors to India’s case load. After Maharashtra, Delhi follows with 2,000 cases and Tamil Nadu is the fifth largest contributor with 1,477 cases.

Also read: Coronavirus | Nearly 4,300 cases were linked to Tablighi Jamaat event, says Health Ministry

Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Andaman and Nicobar islands recorded doubling times of 20-30 days.

All COVID-19 patients in Goa were discharged from hospital after recovery, and now Goa had no active cases. Three districts including Pauri Garhwal in Uttrakhand were added to the list of districts with no case in the last 28 days and six districts — Dungarpur and Pali in Rajasthan, Jamnagar and Morbi in Gujarat, North Goa in Goa and Gomati in Tripura — were added to the list of 59 districts with no active cases in the last 14 days.

 

The Centre said it had constituted six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs), two each for West Bengal and Maharashtra and one each for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to combat the outbreak.

“Situation is specially serious in Indore (MP), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan) and Kolkata, Howrah, Medinipur East, 24 Parganas North, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri in West Bengal,” the press release said and added that the teams would focus on complaints of implementation of lockdown measures as per guidelines, supply of essential commodities, social distancing, preparedness of health infrastructure, safety of health professionals and conditions of the relief camps for labour and poor people.

Also read: 25 districts across 15 States contained coronavirus spread, no fresh cases in 14 days: Health Ministry

Several states — notably Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka — have said that a sizeable number of those testing positive appeared to be asymptomatic.

Raman Gangakhedkar, spokesperson for the Indian Council for Medical Research said there were no plans to change the testing criteria, which currently has been expanded to tests those showing flu like symptoms as well as asymptomatics in hotspots.

 

The nature of the infection was that 80% of those afflicted would show mild or no symptoms and the likelihood of antibody tests showing up positive, decreased as one approached the period symptoms started to manifest, he added. So they had to be used with care. Antibody tests give results in 15 minutes however they check for the presence of antibodies that are generated during or after an infection.

Also read: Selective relaxation in non-containment areas from April 20, says Health Ministry

These are useful for research and gauging the trend in infections in a region rather than actual diagnosis of an infection and are therefore not recommended by the ICMR for confirmation. Turning positive in an antibody screening requires one to undergo an RT-PCR, or confirmatory test, and isn’t in itself a guarantee of immunity from future covid infections.

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