25 Sep 2020: Active coronavirus cases are declining, India gets slim hope
Although newer coronavirus infections are rising worryingly across India, the trend in the last few days has offered hope, albeit temporary — the number of active cases is declining and the reproductive number (R) has dipped to less than 1 for the first time since March.
Moreover, the number of recoveries has been more than the active cases for the sixth consecutive day.
Fact: From 10.17 lakh, active cases down to 9.7 lakh
On September 17, India had 10.17 lakh active cases. As per the Health Ministry's latest data, the number of active cases now stands at 970,116. Yesterday, the country reported 86,000+ fresh coronavirus infections and 1,141 deaths, swelling the tally to 58.1L cases, and 92,339 deaths.
Reproduction rate: For the first time since March, "R" fell below 1
The most welcoming news to have emerged in India since the pandemic started in March is that the reproduction rate has fallen below 1.
As per the calculation of a team led by Sitabhra Sinha of Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai, R is currently at 0.93, reports IE.
This means, that 100 ill people are passing the infection to 93 people.
States: National trend of "R" and states' trend aren't much different
Tellingly, the national trend of falling "R" was also reflected in the big five — the states having the maximum number of cases.
Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh have all been reporting higher recoveries than infections in recent days.
The case of Maharashtra, which has 12,82,963 cases, or 22% of the national caseload is especially noteworthy.
Reasons: So, what led to the falling "R"?
The report said falling "R" could be attributed to fewer people-to-people interaction, buoyed by strict lockdowns. But with the country almost opening up, this explanation holds little ground.
Masks and social distancing could also be the reasons, but there's enough evidence to suggest not everyone is following the rules.
A slip in daily active cases could, hence, be a result of lesser testing.
Tests: India's average testing dipped slightly, some states performing better
On Wednesday, the seven-day average of daily tests was 9.81 lakh, a fall from 10.98 lakh tests, the average on September 13. That could be the reason behind the less number of reported active cases.
Meanwhile, India conducted 1492,409 tests yesterday.
Another report in HT claimed 14 states are performing better, in terms of tests per million (TPM) population, and the positivity rate.
Statement: Trends are encouraging but they are not irreversible: Expert
Notably, even Dr. Sinha seemed unsure as to what is driving the fall in "R," saying that fewer tests can be one reason, but not the only one.
"It is important to remember that these trends are not irreversible, and can change any time. So, we must take care that no one, neither the government nor the people, lowers the guard," she told IE.