Maharashtra has once again emerged as the epicentre of the outbreak, with the wealthiest state accounting for more than half of the daily additions. Of the 10 districts with most number of cases, seven are in Maharashtra.
This has forced the state government to stop all non-essential services, shut malls and restaurants, and urge companies to resort to work from home for the ongoing month.
Punjab and Chhattisgarh are witnessing a surge, too. They have added most Covid-19 cases after Maharashtra over the last couple of weeks.
The average daily cases in a week in Punjab have gone up from 240 in February to more than 2,700 in April, while in Chhattisgarh, it has gone up from 250 to more than 2,400 during the period.
“Punjab and Chhattisgarh are a cause of extreme concern,” Rajesh Bhushan, secretary at Ministry of Health, had told reporters earlier this week. Chhattisgarh, despite being a small state, accounts for 6% of the total cases and 3% of total deaths in the country, he said, while Punjab accounts for 3% of the total cases and 4.5% of the total fatalities.
The positivity rate among the states has also gone up as the virus spreads at an aggressive pace. Newer hotspots such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh and Punjab are reporting positivity rates of more than 8%.
The mortality rate in the country is also on the rise, with daily deaths at a six-month high. Maharashtra reported average daily deaths of 250 in the first week of April, followed by Punjab with an average of 58 casualties, according to the Health Ministry data.
The spike in coronavirus cases is also seen at a time new variants have been reported in the country.
As on March 30, India reported 807 cases related to the U.K. variant, 47 from the South African strain and one in the Brazilian form, the Health Ministry said.
“There is definitely a possibility of multiple new variants which are more infectious and are adding to the rapid surge,” Babu said. But there isn’t enough investigation which variant is leading to this and the country needs to examine new variants, he said.
The Maharashtra government has already indicated that the state will be forced to go into another lockdown if the situation doesn’t improve.
Muliyil, however, thinks that a “lockdown will be a foolish move”. It’s not that the virus disappeared after the first lockdown. “We must also remember that we don’t have just one disease; there are thousands of others diseases, and going the lockdown way could lead to more deaths as it disrupts everything.”