New Delhi: India’s effective reproduction number (R) for Covid — an indicator of how fast the infection is spreading — is now 1.22, with the R for Delhi and Mumbai increasing to over 2 for the first time since the pandemic struck India 21 months ago.
Between 23 and 29 December, Delhi’s Covid R value shot up to 2.54 — the highest it has ever been. The number was 1.12 around 17 December.
India’s overall R value has gone up to 1.22, so cases are increasing, not shrinking, the central government announced Thursday. At a press briefing, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr V.K. Paul said use of masks is a must and mass gatherings should be avoided.
R represents the average number of people who are likely to catch the disease from one infected person. The R value should remain below 1 for an epidemic or pandemic to come to an end.
According to the bulletin shared by the Delhi government Wednesday night, 923 new Covid cases have been detected in a day in the national capital, taking its total active cases to 2,191.
For Mumbai, the estimated R value between 23 and 28 December was 2.01, which is also the highest the city has ever seen. On 17 December, it had been 1.10. The city has recorded a sharp jump in daily Covid cases, with 1,377 detected Thursday.
The R values are higher than those reported at the start of the pandemic, when the population was not vaccinated and didn’t have immunity due to past infections.
Data fluctuating, says expert
For several weeks, India’s overall R value had remained steady at 0.94.
Sitabhra Sinha, a researcher at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, who has been tracking R value for the country since the beginning of the pandemic, said that between 21 and 26 December, India’s R value increased to 0.97. The data over the last few days is fluctuating too much, he added.
Health experts across the world have warned that the Omicron variant of Covid spreads much faster than other circulating variants. As many as 961 cases of the variant have already been detected across India, and it is likely the cause of the rise in cases in metros.
For Pune, the R value dropped slightly from 1.12 around 17 December to 1.11 this week.
For Chennai, R was at 1.04 around 14 December, and decreased to around 0.99 last week. But the value has now once again increased to 1.26.
In Kolkata, the R value is 1.13, an increase from 1.05 around 17 December.
Bengaluru’s R is also estimated to be around 1.11, an increase from 1.07 in mid-December.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)