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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Even as 16 novel coronavirus positives in India have recovered in the last 24 hours, the disconcerting blip today on the Covid-19 radar is the death toll touches the double-digit in the country.

Is this an alarming sign for the country? As per the accepted yardstick globally, the situation is projected to turn explosive if the death rate doubles in a short span of time.

Consider the India case. The country has recorded first Covid-19 death on March 12. The death doubled to 2 in 72 hours (March 14). Maintaining the trend, death toll doubles to 4 in next 72 hours (March 16).

But the mortality count took 96 hours to double to 8 on March 23. And in next 24 hours (on March 24), the toll inched up by 2 to touch 10.

It needs mentioning that for the last four days (Mar 21-24), the country has been recording 2 deaths every day, which when cumulatively seen comes at a massive 60 per cent of the total deaths recorded till date. Significant here is, first Covid-19 case in the country was detected on January 30. And the hunch here is if the trend continues, then the mortality toll in the country will be exponential.

Now, a look at the doubling rate of deaths in high-burden countries provide some big hints. When the death toll in Italy took 5-days (120 hrs) to double, its' 3-days (72hrs) in US and 13 days (312 hours) in S Korea.

Significant observation is, Covid-19 curve flattened in those countries like South Korea, where death toll took a longer time to double.

A study of the Covid-19 cases and deaths reveals a clear co-relation. The deaths progress at the same pace the  confirmed positive cases post a rise (look the graph below).

The trend is witnessed in Indian scenario also. The Covid-19 cases in the country has shown an upward trend from March 12, and so too the graphic rise of Covid-19 deaths (see the image).

Death chart Covid-19

It's in this context, the mathematical model on Covid-19 released today by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) hints very big.

As per ICMR model, identification of atleast 75 per cent of asymptomatic individuals having travel history is the need of the hour. ICMR study added that this will allow delaying the with-in country outbreak or community transmission by an appreciable amount. And if the identification proportion increased to 90 per cent, then it would delay the average time to epidemic by 20-days.

At the same time, ICMR admits that such high identification is infeasible as it entails screening of all passengers having foreign travel history.

The ICMR has, thus, concluded that this model tells about the impact of interventions in cases of symptomatic individuals in containment of on-going transmission in the country.  

COVID-19 Count In India:  * Total positive cases - 519

* Active cases - 469  * Recovered cases - 40  * Maharashtra tops with 101 cases  * Kerala -  2nd with 95  * Delhi - 31 cases.

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