India

Last 10 days, positivity curve begins to steepen

Last 10 days, positivity curve begins to steepen
ICMR records show that between April 16 and 28, the positivity rate slumped from 4.8 per cent to 3.0. (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

While the government has maintained that the low positivity rate (share of tests that yield positive cases) does not warrant more intensive testing for Covid, ICMR records show a steady rise in positivity rates over the last four weeks.

More so in the last 10 days when migrant workers have started returning home on board Shramik Special trains.

ICMR records show that between April 16 and 28, the positivity rate slumped from 4.8 per cent to 3.0. But this began inching up since then to 7.0 at the end of day on May 23.

The positivity trend, in fact, steepens over the last one week when the lockdown restrictions were eased (see page 2 graph). The cumulative positivity rate 9 of total tests performed still hovers under 5 per cent.

Replying to a question from The Indian Express, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava admitted that rising positivity is a cause for concern.

The case fatality rate (deaths as a percentage of Covid-positive cases), though, is stable during this period — between 3 and 3.5 per cent.

Normally, Covid trends as per multiple data sheets shared by the governments show a 14-day lag in reflecting lockdown relaxations. For example, last week Niti Aayog Member Dr Vinod Paul said that data until May 22 would reflect the gains made in Lockdown 2.0 which ended on May 3.

The latest trends come as India ramps up testing from under 30,000 daily in mid-April to over 1 lakh tests now. More than 6000 new cases have been reported for the last four days in a row.

According to a study by Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, India records a cumulative positivity rate of about 4.5 per cent and ranks better than USA (11.6 per cent), UK (7.6 per cent), Italy (6.7 per cent) and Japan (6.2 per cent) as on May 23. However, the latest trend could affect this listing.

This upward trend in positivity holds significance in the wake of increased movement of migrants from red zone areas into green and orange zones.

The Railways, in fact, ferried about 40 lakh migrant workers from urban centres to their native places in the last three weeks. And plans to run 2600 more Shramik Special trains in the next 10 days.

This has resulted in a surge in cases in migrant destination states like UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and West Bengal.