Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu with 31 per cent active cases can hit COVID-19 peak soon: Experts

Updated: 12 August, 2020 16:26 IST | IANS | Mumbai

Dr. Prabhakaran Dodairaj, Professor of Epidemiology at Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) said that the peak has arrived in Delhi while states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are inching towards it

BMC health workers scan body temperature, and undertake antigen swab testing of residents of Navy Colony, Malad. Pic/Satej Shinde
BMC health workers scan body temperature, and undertake antigen swab testing of residents of Navy Colony, Malad. Pic/Satej Shinde

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said 10 states in India account for 81 per cent of total active Covid-19 cases. However, it is Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu who have contributed 23 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, and they could well be on their journey to defeat the virus soon, say experts.

An analysis by IANS, confirmed by the experts, clearly suggests that Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are inching towards hitting a peak in the virus load, just like Modi on Tuesday hoped that the country would emerge victorious in its fight against the pandemic if the virus is defeated in the 10 states.

As per the experts, the gap between inhibition of new cases versus cases recovered is filling in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. They referred to the case of Delhi which is believed to have crossed the peak in July last week.

Dr. Prabhakaran Dodairaj, Professor of Epidemiology at Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) said that the peak has arrived in Delhi while states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are inching towards it.

"We could see a downfall in the number of cases in Delhi. While in states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, the recoveries have started getting closer to the daily number of cases and it is just a matter of time that it would outnumber it," said Dodairaj who also heads Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at PHFI.

Dodairaj added that nothing could be said with certainty in case of the peak; however, trends suggest peak is near in case of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Alpana Razadan, who heads Genestrings lab in Delhi, which is associated with Delhi government to test Covid-19 samples, also concurred with DDodairaj taking a cue from Delhi.

"In Delhi, we hit the plateau in the last week of July when the daily positive cases were continuously going down. This is the criteria of hitting a peak that the curves flatten and cases go down. The same observation could be applied to Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as well," Razdan said.

Maharashtra

If we take into account the last 15 days, in Maharashtra, the daily infection rate varied between 5-7 per cent against 18-22 per cent in the first half of July. Meanwhile, the average rate of infection remained at 3.5 per cent in the last 15 days.

The rate of recovery also improved significantly from 51.6 per cent in June to 69 per cent on Tuesday. While the confirmed cases still fare above the recoveries, the difference between the both lessened from average 4,000 cases, observed from last week of June to the third week of July to less than 2,000 in the last 15 days.

July 27, was the first day when recovery outnumbered positivity by 800 cases. Since then, the recoveries have outnumbered daily confirmed cases on three days at least.

Meanwhile, the doubling rate of cases also improved from 22 days in June to 26 days in July. It means, the cases doubled in 26 days in July rather than 22 days which was observed in June.

The state also registered a dip in two critical parameters: Fatality ratio and Growth rate. The growth rate in cases reduced to 2.7 per cent in July from 3.1 per cent in June. The case-fatality ratio also dropped from 4.46 per cent in June to 3.55 per cent in July.

Testing was also amplified in the state in comparison to June and it improved by 115 per cent.

Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, the infection rate varied between 11-13 per cent daily while the average rate of infection between the last two weeks remained 11.5 per cent. The rate of recovery improved to 81 per cent, highest after Delhi in the country.

The recovery is outnumbering daily active cases by 100 or two hundred cases for the last one week. If the trend continues and we take Delhi into consideration where it is believed that the peak has crossed, Tamil Nadu may witness its peak at the start of September.

However infection rate remains a concern as in the last 30 days, it marginally dropped by a per cent in the last 15 days. The case fatality rate also marginally increased, from 1.3 per cent in the beginning of July to 1.7 per cent recorded on Tuesday.

Despite this, the state has managed to improve the situation significantly. The growth rate improved from 4.6 per cent in June to 3.2 in July and currently reigning at 2.2 per cent.

The doubling time of the cases increased from 15 days in June to 22 days in July when it was recorded last. The testing in the state also recorded over 120 per cent increase.

The Tamil Nadu government had extended the lockdown till August 31 with a few relaxations along with complete shutdowns on Sundays in the state.

Asked when the country would achieve its peak, the experts said that a country as diversified in population density and managing of the pandemic, the peak may arrive at different places at different times.

"It would be absurd to assume a uniform peak across India. The peak cannot arrive at the same time for the whole country together given the difference in its geography, demography and in managing COVID situations across states," said Dr Dodairaj.

Meanwhile, Dr Alpana said that the peak could only be determined after states do aggressive testing. "Currently, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are testing enough to predict their peak time in caseload. We cannot determine if a state is not testing enough," she added.

Maharashtra, with 12.50 crore projected population, is doing 23,000 tests per 10 lakh, while Tamil Nadu with 8.24 crore projected population, is testing around 40,000 (per 10 lakh).

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First Published: 12 August, 2020 16:20 IST

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