The Union Ministry of Health warned that the R-value is still more than 1 in five states, which is still a cause for concern.

A man getting tested for coronavirus by a healthcare worker wearing a blue PPE suitImage for representation/ PTI
Health COVID-19 Wednesday, August 18, 2021 - 21:16

After breaching the value of 1 in the first week of August, the R-value, which reflects how rapidly the coronavirus pandemic is spreading, has been steadily ebbing in the country including Kerala and some northeastern states, according to researchers of the Indian Institute of Mathematical Science. The R-value between August 14-16, calculated by the researchers, now stands at 0.89.

The Reproduction number or R refers to how many people an infected person infects, on average. In other words, it tells how 'efficiently' a virus is spreading. A smaller R indicates the disease is on a decline. Conversely, if R is greater than 1, the number of infected people is increasing in each round and, technically, this is called the epidemic phase. If the R number is less than 1, it means the number of newly infected people is lower than the number of infected people in the preceding period, and the disease incidence is going down.

India's R has fallen to around 0.9, Sitbara Sinha of the Indian Institute of Mathematical Science, who is leading the research, told PTI, citing their data. The R-value of Kerala, which has the highest number of active cases in the country, is now below 1, signalling a relief to authorities who have been struggling to bring down the infection levels in the state. Earlier this week, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, visited Kerala with a central team to review the COVID-19 situation in the state. The minister said the Union government has allocated Rs 267.35 crore to the state to strengthen its health infrastructure and will also provide 1.11 crore vaccines in August and September.

There are currently 4,98,630 people under surveillance in various districts of the state. Of these, 4,70,771 are in home or institutional quarantine and 27,859 in hospitals, according to the state health department. Kerala, which recorded the first COVID-19 case in the country, received accolades for effectively handling the first wave, but the state government has been under criticism after the second wave.

The northeastern states seem to have finally come out of the second wave, Sinha said. The R-value for Maharashtra, another state which has a high number of cases, is 0.89, the data shows. However, Himachal Pradesh continues to have an R-value of above 1, although it reduced in the last few days, while Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand still have R very close to 1, Sinha said.

Among the major cities, the R-value of Mumbai was lowest (0.70 from August 10-13), followed by Delhi (0.85 from July 31 to August 4), Bengaluru (0.94 from August 15-17) and Chennai (0.97 from August 15-17). However, the R-value remains high for Kolkata (1.08 from August 11-15), Pune (1.05 from August 10-14).

In its bulletin on Wednesday, August 18, the Ministry of Health said India saw a single-day rise of 25,166 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest in 154 days, taking the tally to 3,22,50,679.

The national recovery rate was recorded at 97.5%, the highest since March 2020. Less than 50,000 daily cases have been reported for 52 consecutive days. Over 56 crore COVID-19 doses have been administered in the country.

During the May 15 to June 26 period, the R-value stood at 0.78. However, it slowly started increasing— it was 0.88 from June 20-July 7, 0.95 from July 3-22, 0.96 from July 24-27. It breached the value of 1.03 for the first time after the second wave during July 27-31. However, since then it has slowly started to decline. The value was 0.92 from August 6-9, rose to 0.99 between August 12-14. But it slipped to 0.89 between August 14-17.

Earlier this month, the Union government said that 37 districts across nine states, including Kerala (11 districts) and Tamil Nadu (seven districts) are still showing a rising trend in the average daily new COVID-19 cases over the previous two weeks, even as the nationwide daily new infections continued to register a decline.

It said the R-value is more than 1 in five states— Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh— which remains a cause of concern.

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