Lockdown, containment zones no use as states slipping on COVID-19 growth rate, doubling time

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tripura fared badly in July despite going for shutdowns.

Published: 10th August 2020 02:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th August 2020 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

Health workers prepare for COVID- 19 testing through rapid antigen methodology at a neighborhood in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav/EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Lockdowns and containment zones in at least a dozen states haven’t made a substantial difference in the fight against Covid-19.

An analysis of data shows that these states are slipping on three distinct parameters — growth rate (the rate at which infections grow), doubling time (the time for the total infections to double) and positivity rate (percentage of people, out of the number of people tested, who are found positive) — during Unlock 2.0 in July.

Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Tripura fared badly in July despite imposing either a complete, partial or mini shutdowns. Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh are the other regions which did badly during Unlock 2. 

Public health expert and epidemiologist Jammi N Rao said: “Lockdown delays the spread of the infection. At some point, we will have to unlock and unless we have put in place the means to inhibit the person-to-person spread, the epidemic will resume.”

Oomen John, a public health specialist at The George Institute for Global Health, pointed out that every positive case needs a strong response.

“Some states have ramped up testing while they have also gone for a very strong in-person contact tracing, isolation, containing the points of infection,” said John.

Epidemiologist Giridhara R Babu attributes higher infection levels to large population density with poor testing and public health measures. Here’s how five states fared in July: 

Andhra Pradesh
(14-day complete lockdown in some places from July 18)

The state has the second highest number of active cases in the country and is placed third in terms of total Covid-19 infections by July 31.

The virus has spread to all 13 districts of the state, reveals data.

While the government ramped up testing by about 111% by July-end, a steady eightfold increase in the tally of active cases by July 31 as compared to July 1 shows the efforts did not yield dividends.

In July, the growth rate climbed to 7.42% — among the highest in the country — from 4.69% in June and the doubling time in July decreased from June’s 14.9 days to 9.43 days — the second worst doubling rate in  the country. 

(Capital Bengaluru and both urban & rural districts were put under lockdown for nine days —- July 14-July 22)

In the all-India tally of both active and new cases in June, Karnataka remained on the seventh position, but by July-end, the state had the third highest active cases.

In the tally of total infections too, Karnataka climbed to the fifth position. While the tally of daily cases remained under 1,000 for all of June except two days, June 28 and June 29, in July, the state started with a new record almost every other day.

From a total of 16,514 cases on July 1, the state ended with 1,24,115 cases. Following the lockdown, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said lockdowns were not effective.

Uttar Pradesh 
(Weekend lockdowns from July 10)

The country’s most populous state went from bad to worse in July and saw an increase in the growth percentage of Covid-19 from 3.50% in June to 4.16% in July.

The doubling time decreased from 20 days in June to 16.82 days in July. The positivity rate increased from 1.81% on July 1 to 3.82% on July 31. 

The northern state also climbed three positions up in the all-India tally of active cases despite introducing weekend lockdowns. 

West Bengal
(Under partial lockdown since July 23)

The state ranked ninth in the tally of active cases in June, but moved upwards to the sixth position in July owing to a higher growth and positivity rates.

While the state recorded 19,170 cases on July 1, by the end of the month, it recorded 70,188 cases, registering a growth rate in July at 4.26% compared to June’s 3.96%.

There was a two-fold increase in the number of active cases. However, the state managed to improve its doubling time significantly from 1.67 days in June to 16.43 in July.

(Under complete lockdown since July 16)

Bihar was nowhere near the list of 10 most affected states in June, by July-end, it found itself on 10th position with a total 50,987 cases and at the seventh position in the tally of active cases with 17,038 cases, recording a six-fold increase from July 1 when the state had only 2,320 active cases and 10,204 infections.

The growth percentage of infections surged to 5.31% in July from 3.14% in June.

The doubling rate reduced from June’s 22 days to 13 days in July. With a spike in the number of cases, Bihar decided to impose a state-wide lockdown. CM Nitish Kumar recently said the state was at threat due to high population density.

India Matters


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