The second covid wave has spread with brutal force all across India, with nearly all major states set to end April with far more active cases than they ever had in 2020.
Gujarat fares the worst, as it presently has eight times more patients than it had at its worst point last year. Kerala, meanwhile, faces the greatest strain any state has seen so far, with nearly 7,500 reported active cases per million population as of Thursday, shows a Mint analysis. This means one out of every 130 residents in Kerala is currently battling the covid-19 infection as per state government records.
The surging caseload took India past 3 million active cases for the first time during the pandemic on 28 April. In the first wave, the figure had peaked at 1 million in September, after which it declined to a low of 133,000 on 11 February. The number has been rising since then, soaring five times in April alone.
It is important to note that this data is heavily influenced by states’ testing practices and capacity. The true caseload is believed to be several times what is reported. Kerala and Delhi are more likely to find infections as they conduct over 3,000 virus tests a day per million population. When Delhi’s testing slacked last week, its daily caseload dropped.
For every million people, India currently has 2,200 covid-19 patients under treatment.
Active cases per million population can be an indicator of the strain the health infrastructure faces at a given time. Once it gets stretched beyond a given state’s capacity, it may be difficult to stop even preventable deaths.
Maharashtra has around 5,700 active cases per million, followed by Delhi (5,500), Karnataka (4,900), and Chhattisgarh (4,000). No state had crossed the 3,000 mark last year, and only three had crossed 2,000.
Only the 23 states with an estimated population of over 5 million as of 2020 were considered in this analysis. Of these, only Assam has not yet crossed its previous peak. This shows that the severity of India’s second wave of infections is no longer centred in a few states. In some large metro cities, the strain of current caseload has crossed 10,000 per million population, showing that urban centres are still the worst-hit. Bengaluru is facing the worst caseload, with 21,000 active cases per million population. This means one in every 50 residents of Bengaluru is infected with the coronavirus.
Mumbai in Maharashtra and Gurugram in Haryana have similar levels of active incidence rate. In most districts with over 20,000 active cases, the active incidence rate exceeds one case per 200 inhabitants.
For most cities and states, the load is only set to increase in coming weeks as the second wave’s peak remains elusive.