Since the second half of November began, some states in the west and north have been witnessing a rise in coronavirus cases, unlike in the rest of the country. Simultaneously, Delhi underwent its third wave. When Maharashtra’s numbers began to rise, the immediate worry was - is Maharashtra seeing a second wave as well?
After a regular daily decline in new cases since mid-September, India’s worst-hit state has seen a worrying uptick in cases since November 19. The state on Sunday reported fewer than 5,000 Covid-19 cases for a second straight day. 4,757 new infections pushed the tally to 1,852,266. With 40 deaths, the toll went up to 47,734.
However, the good news is this increase appears to have come as a result of a slight increase in testing following an earlier decline. As a result, the test positivity rate has declined despite the increase in detected cases.
Of the 35 districts in the state, the positivity rate in 14 districts is higher than the state average of 16 per cent. Districts like Palghar, Raigad and Nashik have registered a positivity rate of more than 25 per cent, data revealed. Maharashtra has till date tested 11,273,704 people.
This is in sharp contrast to the increase in cases in four other states - Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh - which comes despite them taking their foot off the testing pedal.
It isn’t growing testing that’s driving the increase in numbers in these states, given that it has been accompanied by rising test positivity. This is the case in Mumbai too, which has seen a slight uptick - the test positivity rate has still fallen. But the increase in tests comes in anticipation of a potential future wave.
In the third week of November, the Maharashtra government’s Directorate of Health Services wrote to local administrations asking them to ramp up testing in anticipation of a likely second wave in January-February.
It also asked authorities to identify potential ‘super-spreaders’, like grocery shop owners, people providing door-to-door services, those working in the transport field, labourers, security guards deployed in housing societies, police and home guards, PTI reported.