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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: The COVID numbers in Odisha surge everyday like a tide. Is it an indication of future tense? Not at all. The upping of the COVID heat on Odisha in May seems not to be a new normal in the State's fight against the novel coronavirus till date.

Look at this vital number. The COVID positive rate on May 9 in the State stood at around 1.97 per cent. A rewind to April first week shows, it was 1.83 per cent on April 6-7.

Post the April surge in positive rate, the State government's cluster containment plan and lockdown made the positive rate tumble to as low as around 0.3 per cent in April last week. On May 1, the rate increased to 0.45 per cent, and now hovering at around 2 per cent.

The rate seems not to be a big worry for the State. Because, the positive rate in high burden states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi is estimated at around 7 per cent. Even, Kerala has a rate of around 1.8 per cent now.

What Big Change between April & May?

Undoubtedly, the COVID count has increased in May to a whopping 352 vis-a-vis mere 42 on April 7.

But the twist here is, on May 9, the total samples tested in the State stood at a massive 3,348 against mere around 553 on April 7. The numbers speak for themselves. Despite the number of samples tested having been risen by nearly six times, the positive rate posted only a minor rise for the State in May vis-a-vis April.

Why Odisha has an upper hand now?

In April, the COVID positives identified are among the locals, where the risk of spread was higher. The State Health Surveillance team then had to carry out the arduous task of contact tracing.

For a single positive case, as many as 53 contacts were traced. In such a scenario, the risks of widespread local transmission were very high. Still, the COVID march was contained by the State government with its containment plans.

In May, COVID positives show a mega spurt. But the major difference this time around is, all cases were detected from quarantine centres.

In simple, the Odisha government has quarantined the COVID itself in the State. In such a scenario, there is little chance of local spread, provided the quarantine guidelines are strictly observed.

What Then The Rise In COVID Count Means?

It seems a purely number game now. Because, in the early days, the State government has no such mandatory registration for persons having travel history, a rise in COVID count then could have proved disastrous. There were risks from super spreader then.

But now the COVID reproduction rate or secondary infection rate will be nil in the State. Moreover, taking a course correction recently, Odisha government has increased the quarantine days to 28. This vital COVID intervention will further narrow down the risk of asymptomatic transmission in Odisha. All research studies show the incubation period of COVID-19 is around 27-days only

The impact, therefore, now will be purely numerical. The COVID count will rise, and the doubling time will fall. But the future will not prove tense, as the recovery rate will see a big surge in the State soon - after around 11-12 days.

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