It's not over yet: Analysing the rise in India's COVID-19 cases
Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are seeing a rise in coronavirus infections. Experts believe the lifting of restrictions, coupled with emergence of new variants could be driving the caseload up. However, calling it a fourth wave is a 'stretch'
Is India on the brink of a fourth coronavirus wave?
Over the past few days, the country has witnessed an uptick in COVID-19 cases and Monday’s figures showed a very sharp jump in the cases.
The country recorded 2,183 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, an 89.8 per cent jump from Sunday’s case count of 1,150 cases.
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) April 18, 2022
The daily death count too climbed significantly to 214. Although the numbers included a backlog of 62 from Kerala, it is still a huge jump from just four deaths in Sunday's bulletin.
The daily positivity rate has also increased from 0.31 per cent yesterday to 0.83 per cent today.
We take a look at the COVID situation across the country and analyse the jump in the cases.
COVID uptick in India
A spike in the infections has been recorded in the North — especially in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
On Sunday, the Capital recorded 517 COVID-19 cases, up 12 per cent from Saturday. It was also the highest number of new cases since 20 February this year.
Times of India reported that Delhi's rise was 145 per cent over last week's tally of 943 cases.
In Haryana, weekly cases surged to 1,119, up 118 per cent from the previous week's count of 514. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh saw a 141 per cent spike with 540 cases this week as compared to 224 in the last.
Recently, several schools in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad have also reported coronavirus cases, triggering concerns of shutting down educational institutions and opting for the online model again.
However, Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi, said that closing schools would be the last option. “The government is not in favor of further disruption in studies. Our aim is to keep the studies going while ensuring the safety of students and teachers,” he was quoted as saying.
Reasons behind the rise
While there isn’t any specific reason that can be attributed to the spike in cases across the North, a plausible reason could be the withdrawal of the mask mandate and doing away with all restrictions.
While this isn’t specific to Delhi or the North, Anurag Agrawal, former director of Delhi-based Institute of Genetics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), told the Indian Express that trends first become evident in major urban centres. Agrawal said the current rise being witnessed in Delhi is consistent with what would be expected if people stopped wearing masks and began interacting more freely.
Another reason that could explain the spike in cases is the presence of the BA.2, a sub-variant of the highly contagious Omicron variant or even the emergence of mutant variants like Omicron XE.
As Dr Viswesvaran Balasubramanian, consultant Interventional Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, explained in The Hindu, “Added to that with return to the normal routine and relaxation of mask mandate and social pandemic norms in most of the states, the ability of mutant variants to spread increases.”
Additionally, an increase in social gatherings, refusal to wear masks, poor personal hygiene, ignorance and reluctance to vaccinate are contributing to the rising COVID cases, Dr AK Gadpayle, medical superintendent, Sharda Hospital, Greater Noida told The Hindu.
India's noted microbiologist and Professor at Christian Medical College in Vellore, Dr Gagandeeep Kang, however, said that terming the surge as the fourth wave of coronavirus pandemic in the country would be a “stretch".
“Saying so would be a stretch," Dr Kang told NDTV but cautioned against dropping the guard and said that people should be prepared for reinfections, irrespective of the previous infections or vaccination.
Global cases on the rise too
It’s not just India that is seeing a rise in COVID infections. China’s Shanghai reported its first COVID-19 deaths since the start of its weeks-long lockdown, three elderly people with underlying conditions.
Shanghai, China's largest city, has been under lockdown this year as the country sees its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic. The eastern business hub posted 22,248 new domestic cases on Monday, of which 2,417 were symptomatic, according to the municipal health commission.
Other areas such as the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone, Xian city and Suzhou have also tightened controls.
The World Health Organization’s European office also warned of an uptick in cases in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine on 16 March.
According to the website Our World in Data, the United Kingdom and other countries in the European continent have also recorded an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, tweeted 12 March, “The next wave in Europe has begun.”
Hong Kong and New Zealand — both of which were fortresses till now — have witnessed an unprecedented rise in cases.
The United States is also marching into what could be another COVID-19 surge, with cases rising nationally and in most states after a two-month decline.
With inputs from agencies
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