The situation may be alarming in West Bengal where the pandemic has rapidly spread in the last fortnight with the positivity rate going beyond 17%, much above the World Health Organisation drawn red line of 5%. Unlike Delta variant which caused the second wave, Omicron has turned out to be less lethal, with the overwhelming majority of the infected not requiring hospitalisation.
Significantly, each of these states, except Mizoram and Kerala, had their positivity rates hovering around 1% in the previous fortnight (December 13-26). A TOI study found that while most other states and Union Territories too witnessed a rapid increase in Covid cases in the last two weeks, many of them are still out of danger and away from the “red” line WHO had drawn for the second wave.
The situation in the five poll bound states is a mixed one. While Goa (15%) and Punjab (6%) seem to be in need of immediate and stringent containment measures, the others are yet to reach that stage with positivity rates remaining below 2%, the lowest being in UP at less than 1%. Uttarakhand and Manipur have around 2%.
The all-India positivity rate over the last fortnight has been around 4%, though it is a massive spike from 0.5% in the previous 14-day period. Situations in many other states are quite similar with at least seven of them — Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan — having positivity rates of around 3-4% during the fortnight ending January 8.
A high positivity rate is indicative of a state testing only the sickest and lacking in tracking and treatment measures. One reason why positivity rate has not flared up yet could also be because of the larger vaccination coverage with country last weak reaching the milestone of 150 crore doses. Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and J&K all have kept the positivity rate lower than 2%, so far.
During the peak of the second wave in April-May, Goa had the highest fortnightly positivity rate of 43%, followed by Karnataka 32%, West Bengal 30%, Kerala 27%, Uttarakhand 23% and 22% each in Himachal Pradesh, Andhra, Chandigarh and Rajasthan.
As on Sunday, the highest number of active Covid cases are in Maharashtra (1.7 lakh), West Bengal (62,055) and Delhi (48,178). Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala each have between 30,000 to 40,000 active cases while Gujarat and Jharkhand have over 21,000 cases each, UP has 18,551 cases and Rajasthan 14,000.