BENGALURU: With India hitting a global record of highest single-day rise of nearly 79,000 Covid-19 cases, the Union health ministry on Monday announced Karnataka as one of three states, along with Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, which have together contributed to around 43 per cent of the total coronavirus cases in India.
“Nearly 43 per cent of cases have been recorded in three states, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Also, seven states have contributed to 70 per cent of these new cases in the past 24 hours. Of these, Maharashtra has contributed the maximum caseload amounting to almost 21 percent, followed by Andhra Pradesh 13.5 percent, Karnataka 11.27 percent and Tamil Nadu with 8.27 percent,” the Union health ministry said on Monday.
However, according to senior epidemiologists in the State, Karnataka’s caseload contribution is high as testing has also gone up drastically. Testing per million population is also high in Andhra Pradesh. There is a surge in these two states compared to Maharashtra and Delhi, which had peaked earlier.
“These three states have a population of only 18% of India’s total, and yet the total tests done account for nearly one-fourth of tests done in the country. This means the states that test well report a greater number of cases and also have the opportunity to bend the curve faster,” explained senior epidemiologist and member of Covid-19 Technical Committee Dr Giridhara R Babu.
Dr CN Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research and member of State Covid Task Force said, “Many northern states have conducted fewer tests, so it does not truly reflect the disease burden. It gives an impression that they are in better control.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka has been increasing daily testing in the past few days. On August 1, it tested 22,097 per million population, while on August 30, it tested 46,665 per million population.
There have also been several complaints about the State forcing people to test and also about several false positive reports from labs.
“Just to ensure that we increase testing numbers, hospitals have been forcing people to subject themselves for tests. Also, labs are overburdened. This shouldn’t be done,” said a senior health official.
Meanwhile, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have also accounted for about 50 per cent of Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours.
However, Dr Babu said that instead of worrying, states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka should be shown as good models.
“Andhra Pradesh is keeping mortality rate less than 1% of total cases. I am worried about states with higher populations but low testing, and reporting few cases. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand account for 39% of India’s population, and yet their testing is just 21% of the total tests, much lower than the three high caseload states,” he explained.
Experts said that unless we follow a syndrome approach and enhance testing capacity throughout the country, reporting bias will wrongly convey that southern states have relatively higher burden than populous states.
To contain mortality rate and virus spread, Dr S Sachidanand, vice-chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences heading the State Death Audit Committee, said the government has to follow steps like health education, awareness about prevention and spread of Covid, testing, detect cases early, and early pro-active treatment. We can definitely flatten the curve soon, he said.