India’s Covid-19 numbers have turned for the better. The rate of new infections reported across the country is at its lowest level in five months, data analyzed by HT shows. This is the first time a drop of this magnitude and consistency has been seen in the country’s Covid-19 trajectory.
All the data suggest that this is the best situation in five months. A look at how numbers show India is swinging the fight against the disease.
1. India’s daily case history at its lowest level in 5 months
On Monday, India recorded 22,022 new Covid-19 cases, according to HT’s Covid-19 dashboard. This is the lowest number of new infections reported across the country since July 2, when the country recorded 21,853 daily cases. The seven-day average of daily cases, also known as the case history of a region, reached 93,617 on September 16, the highest value recorded to date. As of Monday, that number is 28,827 – 69% less than the high. The last time it was at this level was on July 15 or five months ago when it was 28,594.
However, one of the best signs is that there is little variation in the drop in trajectory. The seven-day average has been falling almost steadily since mid-September (apart from a one-week fluctuation in the second half of November, mainly caused by rising cases in Delhi, West Bengal and Rajasthan).
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2. For the first time, the situation in Covid is under control in all hot-spot states of India
Even after India’s new cases peaked in mid-September, there have been a few regions where numbers were still rising – notably Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal and Rajasthan. The third wave in Delhi, for example, was so strong that the total temporarily spiked across the country in November. In the past fortnight, however, that too has been brought under control.
As a result, numbers are declining across the country for the first time since the outbreak in all of the country’s major hotspot regions. In India’s hardest-hit state, Maharashtra, the 7-day average of daily cases is down nearly 82% from the high of 22,149 on September 17. In Karnataka, that number is 87% down from its peak. in Andhra Pradesh it is down 95%; in Tamil Nadu it is 82% less; and Kerala has seen a 47% drop from the high observed in the state. Delhi, which saw its most recent high (7,341 cases per day for the week ended November 14), also saw an impressive 71% drop from its high.
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3. Test correctly: The positivity rate reaches its lowest value ever
As of Monday, 2.2% of samples tested across India were positive – the lowest one-day positivity rate since April 25 (also 2.2%). The average rate of samples that tested positive for Covid-19 nationwide has dropped from 9.3% in the week ending September 22 to 3% in the week ending June 17, another trend pointing to a A contraction breakout. In the nearly eight months since the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) released data on Covid-19 tests in the country, this is the lowest value the average positivity rate has ever reached in India.
A falling positivity rate in connection with falling new cases suggests that the testing strategy against the virus is paying off. India’s testing rate (7-day average of daily tests) has been very close to peak values for the past three months – it has remained around a million (963,800 samples were tested every day the previous week).
4. The mystery of Delhi’s remarkable turning point
Delhi was one of the key regions that bucked the bigger trend when India’s first wave of Covid-19 declined for the first time. While cases declined across the country in early October, the third wave began in the capital. That wave peaked in mid-November and has seen a remarkable turnaround since then. The reduction in new infections was accompanied by a decrease in the positivity rate and a significant improvement in tests.
For example, on December 15, Delhi tested 85,105 samples for Covid-19, of which 42,056 were tested using the more accurate RT-PCR (Reverse Tanscription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) method. Both numbers were daily records for Delhi. Despite a record number of tests, the rate of positivity in one day was just 1.9% – only once (April 6) has Delhi ever reported a lower percentage of samples tested positive. Tuesday’s average positivity rate was 2.7%, its lowest level ever. The average positivity rate should consistently fall to 5% or less, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), if the tests are appropriate and the outbreak remains under control. In Delhi, this value is currently below the threshold for nine days in a row.