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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With Cuttack district joining the hotspot list of over 70 districts in the country where the new confirmed Covid-19 cases have grown by over 150 per cent between March 1-20, will Cuttack become the gateway for the second corona wave in Odisha?

For the Odisha Health Department, the worry lines are more conspicuous.

While the doubling rate (as per the new cases reported in the State during last 7-days) has become faster all of a sudden, the rise in the daily infection rate has simply made the coronavirus battle pitch rougher for the State. The pressure on the all-important indicators hints at the imminent looming of a second wave of the corona over Odisha unless precautions are taken at the earliest.

THE DOUBLING RATE

Following a spike in the new confirmed cases in the last 2-days, the doubling rate in Odisha has become faster. If the new positive cases keep the trend of the week (Mar 14-20) then Covid-19 cases in the State will take mere 9.2 days to double.

Significantly, the rate in the preceding week stood at a high of 25 days. More so, when the doubling rate on February 20 had been very long, the rate on January 20 was over 77 days.

The rate getting faster now very clearly implies the fears of the looming second wave over Odisha.

THE R0 VALUE IN ODISHA

With new cases getting reported from the districts that have high population density, along with higher population susceptibility to the highly contagious virus (the vaccination rate is only 2.5 per cent of the Population), IIT Delhi experts put the R0 value for the State at around 0.76 vis-a-vis 0.92 for Maharashtra.

The higher effective reproduction value of the Covid-19 infection puts a glare on how Odisha is vulnerable to the second Covid-19 wave.

"Though R0 is an important indicator to predict the beginning, surge and phasing out of Epidemic curve -where an average R0 value estimated at greater than 1, indicating an exponential rise of infection in society and value of R0 less than 1, predicting the downwards course and eventual decay of Epidemic, the worrying fact is a rising R0 is a cause of concern as it indicates at the looming threat of a growing infectiousness in a region," said a study report of Indian Institute of Mathematics Chennai.

It, however, added that the R0 projections are essential for the health administration for initiating and planning the epidemic containment measures.

ODISHA CONTAINMENT MEASURES

Realising the rising corona challenge at hand, the State government has started enforcing some containment measures like banning of mass gatherings like Holi celebrations, cancelling Thakurani Jatra at Berhampur etc. It has also passed guidelines with the direction to hold virtual meetings in offices in the State.

THE EPI CURVE

Another important indicator that doesn't look conducive for the State is the daily infection rate (DIR). The 7-days moving average of new cases have posted a rise after nearly a month (40 days exactly). Moreover, the active cases have also been on the rise for the last 3-days, after a hiatus of nearly 10-days.

The indicators reveal a rise in the Epi-Curve for the State.

WILL CASES SHOW FURTHER RISE?

It's seems very likely that Odisha will witness a rise in new Covid cases as the State conducts only 19.7 per cent virus detection tests in labs (the RT-PCR test). In contrast, the national average stood at  a good 49 per cent for RT-PCR and only 47.88 for RAT.

Odisha has been listed among the top-5 states where a lot of emphases have been put on the RAT. For which, in a recent meeting of Chief Ministers, PM Narendra Modi specifically asked Odisha to increase the RT-PCR tests to prevent a second wave.

The State heavily depends on RAT (Rapid Antigen tests), and the vulnerability of RAT is: if 100 samples are tested, it will give a positive report for around 50. For which, ICMR has asked all states to go for RT- PCR on ones who have ILI (Influenza-like Illness) infections but has no fever.

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