Understating corona infections PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 April 2020 05:55
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With just 4% of those being tested for the coronavirus testing positive, as compared to 18-20% in the US and countries in Europe, one view is that India seems to be less affected. News from Maharashtra may, however, bust that myth. The report by the state’s public health department, however, points out that 76% of those who tested positive were ‘asymptomatic’, that is, they didn’t show any sign of being infected. Right now, testing is being done on people who exhibit signs of corona infection, but the Maharashtra report suggests that if testing is extended to people who don’t have any symptoms, the infections rates could rise. By how much is not clear since it is also possible that those who have an infection may not necessarily show the symptoms immediately – the incubation period for the virus is up to 14 days – and it is not clear if the health authorities are tracking them for the entire duration.


Another fact that suggests the infection data is not being fully captured is the high fatality rates in some states. While fatality rates are influenced by local factors such as the presence of age- or disease-profile of citizens, ideally the fatality rate should be somewhat close to the country’s average or the global average. In India, the fatality rate is 3% with 162 deaths of the 5,345 people who were infected. This ratio, however, rises to 8.9% in the case of Gujarat, 9.1% for Punjab, 7.2% for Madhya Pradesh and 6.3% for Maharashtra. It is this type of analysis that, for instance, led to the government considering some areas in Gujarat as corona hotspots some days ago.


Has Community transmission begun?


The government has denied that ‘community transmission’ is taking place and, indeed, the purpose of the 21-day lockdown was to ensure this didn’t happen. Based on data from the Maharashtra government’s health department, website covidindia.org has said “Maharashtra data confirms community transmission”. Based on the number of people who have travelled versus those who have not, the website says that, in the past 11 days, “no growth in travelers in the past 11 days vs more than 5x growth in non-travelers” suggests there is community transmission. When a person who has not travelled but got the disease from someone who had travelled and was infected, that is called ‘local transmission’. But if there is extensive mapping of whom a person met and whom they, in turn, met and that still doesn’t show anyone who has travelled, that is called ‘community transmission’. It is not clear if the mapping of contacts was as rigorous in the case of Maharashtra – so as to come to a firm conclusion – but the fact that lockdowns are going to be extended suggests the authorities are worried.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 April 2020 06:02 )

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