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India’s R count hits 1 again, 8 states see high caseload: Michigan University data

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In what is a worrying indicator, India’s R count has hit 1.01 as on July 30, latest data compiled by the University of Michigan’s COV-IND-19 study group shows.

Sitabhra Sinha of the Indian Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai told ETthat the latest figures on India’s R count are still under calculation but worrying numbers were already showing up as of July 24.

This would be the first time since the decline of the second wave –– roughly after May 12 –– that India’s national R value has again touched the ‘one’ value.

The national R count has begun inching towards 1 and above since July 25, as per data from COV-IND-19 study group data. The R value is an important indicator on Covid-19’s prevalence and spread as this effective reproduction number (Re) points to the number of people who can be infected by an individual. Its value decreases as the population becomes increasingly immunised either by individual immunity following infection or by vaccination and also as people die. The R value must be below 1 for active cases to start coming down.

Kerala and the North eastern states apart –– which have been reporting high active cases –– Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, have all seen the R count rise up above 1, as per latest data.

The two hill states have seen heavy tourist inflow and crowding, mostly from Delhi. Uttarakhand, which recently cancelled the Kanwar Yatra and the Char Dham Yatra amid court intervention is at 1.17, while Himachal Pradesh is at 1.13. Delhi is at 1.01.As many as eight states have recorded an R factor above 1, as per this data. While Kerala is at 1.2, Mizoram has an R factor of 1.56, Meghalaya and Sikkim are at 1.27 and 1.26 respectively while Manipur is at 1.08. Even Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are in the vicinity –– at 0.97 and 0.96 respectively.

West Bengal, Karnataka and Telangana have reported a 0.9 R value, hovering near the unity mark.

In fact, in a communication dated July 28, the Union Home Secretary had written to all states that even as there has been cautious reopening, the R factor was “hovering just below one but high in some states”. He cautioned that all efforts should be made to ensure that there is no increase in the R factor and the strictest possible measures should be taken in districts with high positivity rate.

The R factor has been a reliable pointer so far on the trajectory of SARSCOV 2 in India. While India hit its high with the Covid-19 onset on March 25, 2020, with an R value at a dizzying 3.75, it went below 1 between September 2020 and January/February 2021.

The onset of the second wave in early March changed that dramatically.

Around February 17, 2021, India’s R value was at 1.01, pointing to the onset of the second wave.

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