Grappling with Covid 19 Facts & Figures That May Mislead
The Official statistics concerning Covid 19 should be normally believed unless there is a reason for doubt or genuine doubt. A doubt may emanate from repeated criticism, assertions, contradictions, negations or utterances in the social media.These are happening for quite some now.
24 HOUR CASES
2. Coming to 24 hour cases, nationally ,as gathered from Health Ministry, from the earlier high of 97,000 plus in September 2020, the highest recorded figure during the second wave has been 4,14,188 (3923 deaths) on 7th May 2021, which became 3,26,098 (4187 deaths) on 15th May.
74 % of new cases were from Maharastra, Karnataka, Kerala, T.N., U.P., Andhra, W.Bengal, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
Karnataka has overtaken Maharastra, lately, though deaths are on Upswing in Maharastra, Gujarat and U.P.
3. As regards Confirmed Cases nationally, the country unfortunately saw sharpest 5 day rise in ten months on 18th March, highest since December, taking India to occupy third position after USA and Brazil, both in terms of confirmed cases and casualties.
As it happened, the Serum Institute of India,Pune decided to delay Vaccine supply to U.K.
Their present stand too appears very non-committal.
As on date, the reporting of 24,679,650 confirmed cases is really unfortunate.
4. For the first time, as per Health Ministry, these had COME DOWN in 61 days.These were 36 lakhs, 18 thousand and 458, on 15th May, which is still on higher side.
5. On the other hand, the Positivity Rate tells a different story altogether.
A few days ago, according to ICMR, it was 20 to 21 percent. Worrisome news is that 42% of the total Dists (310) are reporting more than the national average.
Dr.B. Bhargava, DG of ICMR has further added that high case positivity rate of 25% and above has been reported from nine states. Further, ten states have such rates between 20 to 25 per cent.
To add to the confusing scenario,Sri Lav Agarwal, J.S., Ministry of Health has indicated that as many as five states having a very high positivity rates are: Goa (49.6%), Pudducherry (42.8 percent), West Bengal (34.4%) Haryana (34.3%) and Karnataka (32.4%).
Do we believe the Ministry or the ICMR ?
IS DELHI IMPROVING ?
6. Delhi has faced tough conditions since early April but its frequent differences with the Central Government add to the crisis. Also challenging are the varying sets of rules and regulations in the neighbouring states.
While Positivity rate in the country was only 5.7 % on 30th March and the GoI had felt that surge in Covid again could overwhelm resources, Delhi ‘s Positivity rate increased to 15.92 % on 14th April and to staggering 36.24 % on 22nd April.It began declining subsequently to 31.36 % on 1st May and touched the figure of 11 % only on 15th May.
Still a lot is expected, in view of the fact that enough Oxygen Cylinders have been made available and several new make shift earmarked Covid hospitals set up in three weeks.But its casualty figures as well as of NCR can not be relied upon, looking at the waiting period at cremation grounds.To ease things however, the decision to stop vaccinations to the age group of 18 to 44 in Delhi and many states may clear the back log of other age groups.
But the decision concerning Covishield to extend the gap between two doses from 6 to 8 weeks is bound to raise anxiety levels unnecessarily.One is, justified to ask-are we going by whims & fancies or by actual field conditions ?
NEED TO SPEED UP VACCINATIONS
7. Talking of total Vaccinations of 18 Crores, 2 lakhs, 199 thousand and 668 at national level as on 15th May, the culled out figures of 98,822,664 (one dose) as COMPARED to 41,688,02 persons (both the doses), is still FAR from being Impressive.
In the beginning fortnight too, vaccination had not shown the claimed impact.By 16th March, despite all sincere steps by the Government agencies, barely 3 Crore 50 lakh, 64 thousand and 356 people were administered vaccination.
It shall have to be accelerated by facilitating import of other available vaxins by the deserving states On Priority. It should be in addition to Covishield and Covaxin, whose production capacity also has to be increased actually and substantially.
Also the promise of Sputnik vaxin by Dr.Reddy’s Lab. has to become a reality, sooner than expected.
STRANGE CASE OF KERALA
8. Kerala, famous for its 1st wave success along with the Bhilwara model of Rajasthan and Dharavi model of Mumbai, and having the best record in the utilisation of vaxins currently ,in the meanwhile, has gone on to record the highest daily tally of 43,529 cases a few days ago with a Positivity Rate of 29.75% and that sadly 6243 casualties have been already reported out of 20.9 lakh confirmed cases.
SIKKIM, ASSAM, MANIPUR & MIZORAM
9. It is equally sad to note that Sikkim, having just 6.11 lakh population, which had zero case till May 2020, has gone on to record 11,070 cases with 198 casualties on 15th May.The state has further strangely added 209 cases daily on an average for eleven days.The CFR naturally being on very high side vis a vis population, needs to be checked/ contained on top priority, by taking more stringent measures at hospitals and P.H.C’s and adoption of strict social distancing.
In Mizoram, too, situation is becoming bad after an impressive initial record.As against 8499 confirmed cases, the state had recorded a high of 122 cases in 24 hours, as on 15th May.
Situation is also not very good in Assam with 324, 979 confirmed cases(5347, 24 hour cases) and a lot of unpleasant revelations bound to emerge in the post-election scenario.
Tripura and Manipur too have recorded relatively high figures of 40,052(449 in 24 hours) and 39,052 (730 cases in 24 hours) respectively.
HORRIFYING SIGHT OF BODIES FOUND FLOATING
10.The inhuman and shameful sight of unaccounted for hundreds of Covid patient bodies found being hurriedly cremated in the major states of Gujarat, Maharastra, U.P. ,M.P. etc was considered very pathetic which had come to notice a month ago.
As per one report in Hindustan Times on 16th May,2021, during 1st March ’21 to 10th May,Govt of Gujarat had officially admitted to only 4218 Covid deaths, while 1,23,000 death certificates were issued.
As if this was not enough, 80 partially cremated bodies were found pushed towards Buxar and Ara in Bihar on Ganga river banks on 10th and 11th May and another 71 or so were found floating on the same river between Kanpur and Eastern U.P. Further,200 odd sand graves were found along rivers in U.P. and Bihar.
In view of the fact that these were floating for over four or five days,Post Mortem was rightly refused by the Doctors, nor their swab could be taken.Only D.N.A. samples could be taken by the efforts of concerned heads of Bihar Districts.Perhaps it may establish the identity of a few of the deceased if their relatives are still looking for the same.
Once again it goes on to show the wide cleavage between deaths reported and bodies discovered on a day to day basis.
11.Without any doubt, superspreaders, such as, unrestrained Holi (27th to 30th March), elections in six states, unregulated Kumbh Mela, over liberated & irresponsible Covid inappropriate behavior of the people in general between November and March have all added to the Grim National Emergency situation as coined by the retiring CJI, Supreme Court on 23rd of April.
PLIGHT OF CHILDREN
12. As a result, not only people above 55 years of age under home isolation are undergoing acute depression and suffering more day by day but the children in general are also having harrowing time by being confined to homes again, say ,after six months or so.Majority of them who took admission in schools in November- December 2019 are yet to have a feel of any school.
They were trying to learn a bit from their immediate seniors, not peer groups exactly ,but that seems to have also vanished since the first week of April.It is unfortunate not to see children anywhere. Their sight even in balconies is BUT RARE.
13. It may be a stop gap arrangement but its logic appears absurd as it can never match education or any orientation in face to face situation.
Moreover, poor parents having more than three children can not possibly afford expensive SMART Phones, all of a sudden. It’s disgusting to note their high sale figures during the ongoing deteriorating Covid situation. Pretty Sad Indeed. But We Must Not Give Up.
SUGGESTED / TRIED REMEDIES
14 . While all India confirmed cases had climbed upto 12,302,110 on 2nd April and Maharastra had recorded over 43,000 cases in 24 hours, strangely only a warning for Lock Down was given by the C.M.,Maharastra. He appeared indecisive despite being under extreme pressure. This was the time when total cases had risen three times faster than the first wave.By 5th of April, when 58 % of total confirmed cases of country were reported from Maharastra alone and the state had also accounted for 34% of the deaths, pan India, it was only on 6th April that Weekend L.D. and Night Curfew was ordered in the whole of state from 5th of April night to 30th April. Ironically, on this day Mumbai had recorded 9879 cases in 24 hours resulting into 21 deaths while Delhi’s Positivity Rate was barely 5%.
RAPID RISE SITUATION ELSEWHERE, INCLUDING GUJARAT
15. On the other hand, confirmed cases had begun rising rapidly in Chattisgarh, Karnataka, U.P., M.P., Punjab and Gujarat also.
It may be pertinent to note that facts and figures of Gujarat had been questioned and discussed with interest several times both in social circles as also the Court, ever since more than a lakh people had assembled in a stadium in Ahmedabad on 23 rd of February,2020 to listen to the address of President Trump.
16. In the meanwhile, almost Lock Down situation will be on in Maharastra till 31st May.
As regards other states,Jharkhand will have L.D.till 27th May, Telengana till 22nd of May,Kerala till 23rd May, U.P. till 24th May, W.Bengal till 30th May and Delhi till 17th of May. It is in force in some parts of the North East as well.
Delhi C.M.continues to show not only unwanted ‘courage’ but is not confident of extending the prevailing Lock Down. The late decision to shut Metro services with effect from 10th of May too has not augured well.
17. Several major states have also ordered L.D. for different durations, but all are not going beyond May, so far.
Under the actually worsening situation, the D.G. of ICMR has rightly batted on 12th May for a COMPLETE 8 WEEK LOCK DOWN, all over the country. It may have to be considered seriously at a time when people in general are not only feeling more devastated but may lose more faith in the system if situation worsens further.
18. It may have to be given Immediate Attention it Deserves, unless we are still willing to get subjugated under the influence of Renewed Vaxin Diplomacy in vogue, all over the world.
The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim