Bangalore — At least ten Indian states are showing signs of an emerging third wave of Covid-19 infection, indicating increased transmission within the community in the past three months.
India’s average R-value is now at 1.01, reports noted on Tuesday (Aug 10). The R-value or reproduction factor is a tool utilised by epidemiologists and policymakers to gauge Covid-19 transmission.
With the value exceeding one, it means that every infected person in India is transmitting the virus to more than one person.
The increase in R-value is said to have been caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant, as it was at 0.93 about a month ago, reported The Times of India.
India’s R-value was at 1.14 in Mar this year, but as cases began to fall, the number decreased to 0.7 in May.
“A combination of epidemiological factors including infection growth rate, increasing number of deaths and hospital occupancy rate explain the risk,” noted India’s National Institute of Epidemiology director Dr Manoj Murhekar.
It was reported that at least 10 states have an R-value higher than the national average, with Delhi and Maharashtra already at 1.01.
Madya Pradesh currently has the highest R-value of 1.31, followed by Himachal Pradesh (1.30) and Nagaland (1.09).
A state with an R-value of 1.3 means that 10 people infected with Covid-19 will infect 13 others who will, in turn, transmit the virus to another 16 or 17 people.
However, the risk factor is not directly related to the R-values of the states, such as Madya Pradesh, with the highest average yet reporting fewer than 30 Covid-19 cases daily, said Dr Murhekar.
“The R-value is high because of the erratic daily numbers, but that does not indicate risk because the percentage of people who test positive over the total number of people tested (test positivity rate) is still low.”
Head epidemiologist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in New Delhi, Dr Samiran Panda, said that the increasing R-values could be “early warning signals of the beginning of a third wave.”
“Early restrictions successfully averted a second wave in some states, but the same states have vulnerable populations who are getting infected now when lockdowns are lifted, and people are not observing safety precautions,” said Dr Panda.
To date, India has confirmed 32 million Covid-19 cases, with a death toll of 429,000.
A total of 28,204 new cases was reported on Aug 9, bringing the country’s seven-day average to about 38,807 cases. /TISG
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