Thursday, March 26, 2020

COVID19 and India: Till 21st March 2020

What started in Wuhan, China allegedly in the mid of October 2019 and officially in the last week of December 2019 is turning out to be a global pandemic infecting almost half of the world. Because of the faster transmission of the Coronavirus, there is fear frenzy behaviour across the globe and India is not an exception to it (Upadhyay, 2020). There are a lot of reports in the media which suggest that coronavirus is going to be a very tough healthcare challenge for India considering its very limited healthcare infrastructure.


On 12th January, World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2); was the cause of respiratory illness in China which was reported to WHO on 31st December 2019. From Wuhan, this virus has spread to almost half of the world as of now. The first case of COVID19 in India was detected in Kerala on 30th January 2020 in students returning from China. The first confirmed death from the COVID19 was reported on 12th March 2020.

On 21st March 2020 when the Government of India decided a ‘Janta Curfew’ in India on 22nd March, there were already health advisories issued by the Health Ministry of India urging for ‘Social Distancing’ as a preventive measure till 31st March 2020. However, the ‘Janta Curfew’ on 22nd March falling on Saturday followed by Sunday was a very successful experiment before the government announced the nationwide lockdown of India.

This article aims at analysing the national data on the coronavirus to understand the possible threats that it poses to India so that India had to put the whole nation under a stringent lockdown that would cripple down the whole economy which is already struggling due to its banking and financial sector crisis (Upadhyay, 2019). This article analyses the national data till 21st March 2020 taking it as a reference point for future analyses.

Analysis of the National Data

On 14th March 2020, there were only 90 confirmed cases and total two deaths with a net of 88 active cases. As far as the numbers of states that had reported the coronavirus cases were only 12 on 14th March 2020 (Covid19india.org, 2020). On this date, as per the data, this virus did not seem to be a big problem for India but across the world it was already one of the biggest health challenges for most of the countries including the developed countries with finest healthcare infrastructure.


On 21st March 2020, there were a total 334 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Of these, 23 patients had recovered and 4 unfortunate patients had already died from with a net of 204 active cases being treated across different states. On this day, a total 22 states in India had already reported coronavirus cases. A comparison with data for 14th March clearly shows that the numbers of patients has increased by around four times and death by two times. However considering the small base, it would not press the panic button but this high growth in the coronavirus patients would prove a cause of concern.


As far as the proportion of active cases are concerned, on 14th March 97.8% of the total confirmed cases were active with zero percent recovery rate and 2.2% of mortality rate but on 21st March, the proportion of active cases with respect to total confirmed cases fell to 91.9% with around 6.9% of recovery rate and 1.2% of mortality rate. The recovery time for the recovered patients was around 2-3 weeks. So as a whole, people were recovering and this recovery was not taking too long but at the same time with no certain medication or therapy. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the government to press the panic button by imposing a nationwide lockdown along with the international experiences.


On 14th March, there were 0.07 confirmed cases per million which increased to 0.25 confirmed cases per million on 21st March 2020. It was an increase of more than three times. The same trend was witnessed in case of active cases per million too. As far as testing is concerned, India started testing with a very few tests (COVID19 being an unfamiliar virus). On 14th March, India was testing only 4.81 persons per million which increased by around three times to 12.59 persons per million. Testing was too low in comparison to the population but the growth in the numbers of the tests was almost similar to the growth in the confirmed cases. However there is a need to test more to bring this episode to a conclusive end.


On 14th March 2020, of total tests, 1.38% cases were found to be positive which eventually increased to 1.96% on 21st March. Similarly of the total tests, 1.35% cases were active cases which increased to 1.81% during the same period. This clearly indicates that the number of confirmed cases per test increased on 21st March. This seems to be another reason for India pushing the lockdown button.


On 21st March 2020, only 4 patients had died because of coronavirus. So the death per million in India was negligible in comparison to the world average of 1.484. Death in Sweden was 66.755 persons per million (Worldometers, 2020). Sweden has one of the best healthcare systems and infrastructure in the world. However in comparison to India no country stands but India is still unaffected from the coronavirus.

Analysis of the State Data

In this section, analysis of state level data is presented with the purpose to track the coronavirus to assess the vulnerability of different states and what measures should be taken to contain the spread of virus. States with no coronavirus cases or insufficient data have been dropped from the study but would be included once there is enough data for the same.

Confirmed Cases Per Million

From the below graph about confirmed cases per million, it is very clear that the numbers of cases in these 22 states have increased at very high rate following the same trend as of the national data. In Laddakh, Chandigarh, Kerala and Delhi this increase had been far higher than the national average. However, it is in initial phase but governments in these four states should be concerned.

Recovery Rate

India had recovery rate of 6.9% on 21st March 2020. Of 22 states, only six states had reported any recoveries. This was mainly due to initial phase of coronavirus outbreak in these states as it is taking around 2-3 weeks for recovery. Out of six states, four states had higher recovery rates than the national average. UP had the highest rate of recovery at 21.4%. Only Karnataka and Telangana had recovery rate lower than the national average respectively at 4.8% and 5%.

Conclusion

From the above data analysis and number of total cases, lockdown seems to be an extreme reaction from Indian government but the kind of experience that the world is having as of now, the reproduction rate and healthcare infrastructures in India, lockdown may prove very beneficial in controlling the transmission of coronavirus.

In the case of India on 21st March 2020, the numbers of confirmed cases were doubling in just three days. It was very high growth. If that rate of growth in coronavirus patients continues for months, whole India would be sick and millions of people will be killed by this virus in India if it remains unchecked. There are many similar experiences in other countries which presents a very scary picture. Perhaps it is one of the reasons why India had to press the panic button of national lockdown. It is quite possible that lockdown may help in controlling the transmission of virus but it will prove very costly to Indian economy. At the end, there would be a recession in the economy and millions of people would lose livelihood and fall in the vicious circle of poverty and debt.

Bibliography:-

  • Covid19india.org. (2020, March 25). https://www.covid19india.org/. Retrieved from Coronavirus: https://www.covid19india.org/ 
  • Upadhyay, R. K. (2019, December 19). Divergence of Bad Loans and their Provisioning and NPA in Indian Banking System. Retrieved from The Deliberation: https://www.deliberation.in/2019/12/divergence-of-bad-loans-and-their-provisioning-and-npa-in-indian-banking-system.html 
  • Upadhyay, R. K. (2020, March 11). Coronavirus, Economy and A Fear Frenzy Behaviour. Retrieved from The Deliberation: https://www.deliberation.in/2020/03/coronavirus-economy-and-fear-frenzy.html 
  • Worldometers. (2020, March 25). Worldometers. Retrieved from Coronavirus: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
- Rajeev Kumar Upadhyay

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