Covid-19 cases rise as the second wave peaks

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After nearly three months of steady decline, daily Covid-19 infections in India have begun to rise again, fueled in part by the high volume of daily cases in regions like Kerala, where the outbreak is fast spreading. The seven-day average of daily infections in two more states, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, has risen by more than 75% from the lows seen after the severe second wave of infections.

The seven-day average of new infections, which represents the country’s Covid-19 case curve, fell to a low of 37,975 per day for the week ending July 22 but has since progressively increased to 40,710 per day for the week ending August 3.

While this may appear to be a little increase in cases in absolute terms, each time such a reversal has occurred in India’s outbreak, it has signalled a critical turning point in the cycle.

For the first time since May 10 — when the second wave crested — the week-on-week change in the case curve has been above zero for the previous six days (see chart). A positive shift in this percentage indicates that the outbreak is spreading, whereas a value below 0 per cent indicates that the outbreak is contracting. The last time this value exceeded 0% was on February 17, the statistical point from which it was calculated.

Meanwhile, the national average positive rate – an important indicator that indicates the spread of infection – has begun to slowly grow, rising from 2% to 2.4 per cent in the last two weeks.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary of the Union health ministry, said it was too early to claim the second wave has finished during Tuesday’s Covid-19 media conference. He claims that if the R-number is greater than one, the case trajectory is increasing and must be regulated.


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