NEW DELHI: Covid-19 cases continued to inch up in the country for the eighth week running, with the weekly total just short of 1.3 lakh, up over 6% from the previous week. Although the numbers remain relatively low, this is the longest sustained rise in weekly cases in India since last year’s second wave.
Deaths from the virus were likely to cross 250 in the week ending Sunday, a rise of around 18% from the preceding seven days.
This week’s rise in cases was driven by a sharp surge in the northeast led by Assam and Tripura, states in east and central India (Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand), as well as others such as Himachal and Andhra Pradesh. Overall, cases rose in 27 states and UTs, declined in eight (including Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi) while remaining unchanged in one.
Presumably on the back of new Omicron subvariants, cases had begun to rise in the country in the May 23-29 week, when a little over 17,000 new infections were detected. The numbers have risen steadily since then to just over 1.28 lakh in the current week.
A longer sustained increase was last seen during the second wave in 2021, when cases had swelled for 12 weeks in a row. However, the numbers during the current surge remain so low in comparison that this is not being called a “wave”. Cases rose for just four straight weeks in the third wave in January this year.
With weekly deaths likely to touch 250 for the first time in over four months, Kerala reported the highest fatalities at 99, followed by Maharashtra and Bengal, both recording 33 deaths each. Assam recorded nine fatalities, while Delhi, Karnataka and Bihar reported eight each. To the extent of availability of data, these figures do not include deaths from earlier periods reported during the week.
Several states have seen fluctuations in weekly numbers during the current surge, with a falling trend in a particular week changing into a rise in the next. For instance, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana reported a slight increase in cases this week after recording a fall in the previous two weeks. Similarly, Karnataka posted an 8% spike after recording a slight fall last week, which was preceded by a rise and a fall in the previous two weeks.
Apart from the highest death toll, Kerala reported the highest number of new cases in the week at 19,976, followed by Bengal (19,147), Tamil Nadu (16,248), Maharashtra (15,367), Karnataka (7,299) and Odisha (5,608).
Tripura reported the sharpest surge, with cases rising over 10-fold from 110 to 1,305. In Assam, infections surged from 1,309 in the previous week to 3,602. Odisha logged an 89% increase (2,966 to 5,608) and Chhattisgarh also 89% (1,432 to 2,702).