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India’s Covid deaths rise steadily but infection rate fluctuates in states: Data experts




Health workers carry out a survey to track down Covid-19 cases in Ajmer during the lockdown | Praveen Jain | ThePrint
(Representational Image) Health workers carry out a survey to track down Covid-19 cases in Ajmer during the lockdown | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

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Bengaluru: India has seen a steady increase in the number of deaths from Covid-19 while the rate of new infections has been fluctuating from state to state, according to data analyses by experts Shamika Ravi and Mudit Kapoor.

For instance, in Maharashtra and Gujarat, they say containment measures have not been able to effectively control the spread of the coronavirus.

A former member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and an economist, Ravi has been sharing her analyses of how India is doing in terms of Covid-19 numbers everyday in the form of pictorial graphs on social media.

Ravi is also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and is a professor at the Indian School of Business.

Along with colleague Mudit Kapoor from Delhi’s Indian Statistical Institute, Ravi has been studying data collated from official sources as well as unofficial ones to better understand India’s Covis-19 trajectory.

Also read: Is India’s Covid-19 curve flattening? Cases now double every 10 days, from 3 before lockdown

State-wise growth of cases

Ravi calculates how well states are doing during the time of lockdown by calculating a five-day moving average of new cases, i.e., the average is determined from data of only the past five days. As such, it is constantly changing. Such an analysis is useful for determining short-term growth patterns.

“Five-day moving median is less noisy than tracking (the) daily number,” Ravi told ThePrint. “It smooths daily fluctuations, and get broad trends. It is better than daily log trends.”

The median is the middle value in a data set that is arranged from lowest to highest value, and is a kind of statistical average.

Ravi and Kapoor’s graphs for 20 April show that states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh are not doing well in terms of containment, with the moving average climbing steadily, indicating a steady growth in numbers.

For states such as Tamil Nadu, the number is currently high, but has been going up and down the past few days. States such as Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have recorded low five-day moving average now, but have been growing in the past few weeks.

Death rate per million

Ravi and Kapoor have also plotted the death rate per million population in states with over 150 existing cases.

What this shows is that India as a whole has 0.43 deaths per million as of 20 April, while states like Delhi (2.04) and Maharashtra (1.82) have much higher rates. Delhi and Mumbai have seen a really high spike in numbers in the recent days. Kerala has the least number of deaths, at 0.06 per million. As of Tuesday, India’s death toll from the virus is 603.

Also read: Many deaths are ‘missing’, perhaps 28,000 of them, from official Covid-19 toll across world

Calculating average of new cases & new deaths

Ravi and Kapoor also applied the moving average calculation to daily new cases and deaths.

Their calculations showed that the number for daily new cases has been climbing steadily, as is its five-day moving median. Deaths, which typically occur 14 to 17 days after the onset of symptoms, saw a brief drop and plateau before starting to climb again.

10-day doubling of cases

The cases being recorded each day in the country continue on an upward trajectory, as the total number of active cases climb.

According to Ravi’s analysis, there were three notable milestones here: On 23 March, there was a dip in the growth rate where cases started doubling every five days instead of three. On 29 March, the growth rate spiked and cases doubled every four days instead of five. And, finally, on 6 April, the growth rate slowed to cases doubling every six days instead of every four.

“Given the narrow testing protocol that was followed for several weeks, where symptomatic people were tested, it is difficult to assess the true extent of the infection spread,” explained Ravi. “It is difficult to measure case fatality ratio. The case growth is therefore for reported cases.”

Currently, as of 21 April, the numbers climb at a pace of 7.2 per cent, doubling India’s confirmed cases every 10 days or so.

According to the Union health ministry, India’s doubling rate was 7.5 days based on data from last week.

Also read: Infection rate in 18 states offers hope but MP, Rajasthan, Bengal, Maharashtra are worries


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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