India

Most Covid-19 cases high on health index; spread remains limited

Most Covid-19 cases high on health index; spread remains limited
According to Health Ministry data up to April 6, Kerala and Delhi have cases across all their districts.

IN WHAT may have a bearing on the exit plans of states as the 21-day lockdown nears end, 11 large states and Union territories have cases spread across more than half of their districts.

But what may help measures to contain the outbreak is that a vast majority of the cases fall in 10 states with high health parameters, as per a NITI Aayog Index. Of these 10 states, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have some of the lowest healthcare indicators in the country.

According to Health Ministry data up to April 6, Kerala and Delhi have cases across all their districts. The other large states or UTs with cases across almost all their districts are Andhra Pradesh (84 per cent), Uttarakhand (77 per cent), Tamil Nadu (71 per cent), Telangana (70 per cent), Rajasthan (58 per cent), Karnataka (57 per cent), Maharashtra (56 per cent), Haryana (55 per cent), and Jammu and Kashmir (50 per cent).

However, of the total 4,280-plus cases as of Monday morning, 658 reported from 13 states (including Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana) did not have district data available.

As the states prepare their plans for exiting the lockdown, the decisive factor would be not only the number of cases but also their spread. Some have a high number of cases but these are contained in less than half of their districts. Uttar Pradesh, for example, has 227 cases but all in just 36 per cent of its districts. Madhya Pradesh 165 cases, spread over 16 per cent of its districts.

Around a fifth of the cases (772) are in states categorised by the NITI Aayog as six of the lowest-performing in health indices. This includes Rajasthan, with 253 cases across 20 of 33 districts. However, it is also the only one of the low-performing states to have improved its health score over the past year.

Of the other five which all saw a decline in their scores — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand — only Uttarakhand has coronavirus cases in more than half of its districts.

Some of the factors dictating the health score are data integrity, TB treatment success rate, quality accreditation of public health facilities, and immunisation rates.

The medium-performing states — West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Assam — account for very few cases too, making up 5 per cent of the total.

In the district-wise data available on Monday morning, 550 positive cases across 13 states were not assigned to any district. This includes 27 positive cases in Rajasthan who are evacuees from Iran.

Of the 284 districts with confirmed cases, nearly 70 per cent had either 10 or less cases. Eighty districts had between 11 and 100 cases.

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