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Alarm as infection rate in Bihar & UP, most populous states, 1.5 times above national average

India's overall R value was a reassuring 1.31, compared to 1.30 last week. But it is the two poorest and most crowded states where infection rates have gone up alarmingly.

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New Delhi: While India’s overall R value for Covid-19 remained nearly constant, the source of big worry are two of the most populous states in India — Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — reaching infection rates nearly one and a half times higher than the national R value.

While nationwide R value was a reassuring 1.31, compared to 1.30 last week, it is the two poorest and most crowded states where infection rates went up alarmingly.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Effective reproduction rate, or R, describes how many people one Covid-19 patient is likely to infect. The higher the R, the more quickly the infection will spread. For a pandemic to come to an end, R should be below 1.

States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar fare the worst currently in terms of how quickly the infection is spreading — with R values reported to be 42 per cent and 50 per cent higher, respectively, than the national average.

Bihar, UP fare badly

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

The R for Bihar has risen to 1.97, from 1.72 estimated over 21-28 March. This is over 50 per cent more than the national R value. It is also the highest effective reproduction number among states with the highest number of active cases.

Over the last 24 hours alone, the state reported 8,690 new Covid-19 cases, taking active cases up to 44,701.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, has the second-highest R — over 42 per cent higher than the national R value. The number for the state rose to 1.87 this week from 1.62 estimated over the period of 16 March-2 April. This is higher than the R reported during the nationwide lockdown last year.

While Uttar Pradesh’s R value maybe lower than Bihar’s, the state currently has 1,91,457 active cases — more than four times that of Bihar. This means that even with a slightly lower R, the new Covid-19 cases in the state far outnumber that of Bihar.

In the last 24 hours, UP saw 30,566 new cases of Covid-19 — second only to Maharashtra.

R value for states with highest active cases

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

While the focus has been on Maharashtra for reporting the highest number of Covid-19 cases every day, the R for India’s second-most populous state has been reducing over the last few weeks. The state’s R had peaked at 1.29 around 19 April, but has come down to 1.14.

Since the state has the highest burden of active cases, this drop in R bodes well for the country as a whole. Maharashtra’s reduced R is offsetting the effect of increase in R values of other states.

“But what is even better, R for Mumbai over the last few days has been less than 1, that is, the number of active cases is actually decreasing,” said Sitabhra Sinha, a researcher at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Around 30 March, Mumba’s R had peaked at 1.34. Now, the value is 0.92.

“Of course it is still early days to say if this is a sustained trend,” Sinha added.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Meanwhile, R for Delhi — which has the highest population density in the country — has increased to 1.62 this week from last week’s 1.48. The national capital recorded as many as 74,941 active cases as of Monday.

West Bengal — home to over seven per cent of India’s population — also reported its R falling to 1.61 from last week’s 1.66. However, West Bengal’s R continues to be the highest among states with high active case count — 1.2 times the national R.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

For Jharkhand, the R value rose to 1.72 from 1.32 estimated around 22 March. This is 30 per cent more than the national R. The state has a relatively lower percentage of active cases — 28,010 as of Monday. However, if R is not brought down, the state may see a rapid rise in cases in the coming days.

Graphic: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

For example, Chhattisgarh had just 3,537 active Covid-19 cases on 12 March, when R was reported to be 1.30. In a little over a month, the sustained R of 1.30 increased the active case count to 1,28,019 (as on Monday). The state’s R value is currently 1.56.

Gujarat’s R has also increased to 1.54 this week from 1.34 last week.

Also read: How volunteers have made social media the national Covid ‘helpline’ for beds, oxygen, plasma

Major cities

Apart from Mumbai, where R is 0.92, all other major cities reported R more than 1.

For Pune, R is at 1.24 while for Bengaluru, the value is 1.40.

Kolkata saw its R value reduce to 1.49 from 1.52. Chennai saw R rise to 1.40 this week from 1.37 last week.

(Edited Neha Mahajan)

Also read: At 5.2 million infections, global Covid-19 cases hit record-high since start of pandemic


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  1. Nothing can dent India’s overflowing human population. Even if the number of cases have increased the mortality will still be low. In fact during lockdowns India’s death rate reduced due to fewer mishaps and accidents with everything being shut. So in a way Covid is a blessing. In any case quality of life in India is abysmal, Covid or otherwise. More people die in India due to accidents, malnutrition, poor healthcare, snakebites etc. but nobody cares. Even media makes no noise about it. Suddenly a flu that causes far fewer fatalities is bigger news.

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