New Delhi: For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began in India, the effective reproduction number or R — an indicator of how fast the pandemic is spreading — reduced to its lowest ever value of 0.82.
R needs to be sustained below 1 for the epidemic to come to an end.
According to Sitabhra Sinha, researcher at the Institute of Mathematical Science in Chennai, the low value of R at the national level is almost entirely due to the improved situation in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
India’s R has been below 1 for the second consecutive week, driving down the active cases in the country.
It is important to note that since R is calculated based on the number of reported cases in the country, the accuracy of the value also depends on the accuracy of the data.
Major states seeing downward trend
The states of Karnataka and Maharashtra currently have the highest number of active cases of Covid in the country.
For Karnataka, the R came down to 0.80 this week from last week’s 1.04. This is the lowest that R has been in the state since last November.
Maharashtra now has a R value of 0.76. As a result of the lockdown in the state, R has been below 1 throughout the month of May.
Similarly, Kerala’s R has also improved to 0.78 from 1.05 last week. The state currently has 2,59,559 active cases.
Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have R values close to 1. Last week, while Andhra Pradesh’s R was at 1.08, West Bengal’s R was 1.04.
Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and Gujarat also continue to have R below 1, Sinha told ThePrint.
“UP now has an incredibly low R value of 0.56 — its lowest R value ever. The only time that its R came this close was for a few days in early February when it was 0.59. Otherwise, even during the lull of September 2020-January 2021, it has been hovering around 0.9,” he said.
The lockdown in Delhi has also driven R down to 0.43.
Worrying trends in some states
The worst, though, is not over for some states. Tamil Nadu, with R at 1.22, has now overtaken Kerala to become the state with the third highest burden of active cases in the country.
Although its R relatively reduced from last week’s 1.29, active cases continue to increase in the state.
Similarly, for Odisha, R has reduced to 1.06 from 1.11 last week, but here too, active cases continue to rise.
Assam is also seeing a rise, and its R increased to 1.21 this week from last week’s 1.10.
Chennai currently is the only city where R is still above 1. However, this is an improvement from last week, when its R was 1.27.
Pune’s R dropped to 0.64. However, Mumbai’s R, which continues to be less than 1, is showing a trend that’s creeping upwards, Sinha said.
Meanwhile, Kolkata and Bengaluru have R at 0.93 and 0.71 respectively.