Looking at the Data: Is There a Second Wave of COVID in India? 

Cases have increased in 17 of the 20 most populous states of the country. Has the second wave of COVID-19 begun?

5 min read
Looking at the Data: Is There a Second Wave of COVID in India? 

The way in which coronavirus cases have shown an increase in February and March, the question on everyone's mind is if the second wave of COVID-19 has started in India.

Is this growth limited to only a few parts of the country or are cases increasing everywhere?

States like Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh have reported the highest number of cases since January. We try to understand this through data – what is India going to face with the challenge of the second wave of COVID?

On 11 March, about 23 thousand new cases of COVID-19 were reported, which was then the highest number of cases registered in the last two and a half months.

While the rising cases were mostly concentrated in Maharashtra and Punjab, now cases of COVID-19 are increasing in many other states as well. States and Union Territories like Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh have also seen the same increase in recent weeks.

The case trajectory (seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases) after the first wave of the epidemic shows that the virus is on the upswing. By the first week of February, 10,988 cases were being reported per week, which increased to 18,371 by 10 March.

According to a report by Hindustan Times, when cases are increasing in the country, testing has also reduced in many states. If we look at the average of the previous week, 7,25,626 samples were examined every day across the country. On the other hand, when the COVID pandemic was at its peak, 11,96,972 samples were tested on an average every day in the week of October 10, 2020.

In Punjab, the maximum increase in cases has been made on the basis of 7 days. After the figures of the lowest new cases have been revealed, they have seen an increase of 509 percent.

On 27 January, where an average of 181 cases were being reported every day in a week, thereafter cases started increasing.

Maharashtra has seen the biggest increase after Punjab. According to the average of 7 days, as of 11 February, 2,415 cases were being recorded daily, but this figure has now reached 10,410.

Till Wednesday, 10 March, there were more than 2.5 lakh confirmed cases. Haryana is at number three in case growth. On a 7-day basis, the average of cases in the state has increased by 302 percent.

After these three states, here’s the condition of Delhi, the capital of the country.

On 7 March, the Delhi Health Minister said that:

“Coronavirus is close to the endemic phase in Delhi. Experts say that some cases keep coming up in the endemic phase. Endemic phase means the continuation of the disease, like swine flu had started at the time when it started rapidly but after that there are some cases every year. Coronavirus is not going to end completely… we have to learn to live with it.”
Satyendar Jain, Delhi Health Minister

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Endemic refers to the continued presence and/or general spread of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area."

This may not be the final level of the disease - which is zero - rather it is the expected level.

However, after a decrease in the cases in Delhi, the national capital is again showing an increase of 140 percent.

In a recent interview with FIT, Dr RR Gangakhedkar, former head of Epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, had spoken about the possibility of a second wave in India:

“If you look at this pandemic, you need to look at three drivers - Population density, mobility and migrations. Now when we talk of these you will find that different geographical area will have different factors related to vulnerability. And since such a variation tends of exist there would be small areas where you are lifting lockdown you will find that there would be some increase. Unless there is a consistent trend you should not say that this is an emergence of second wave.”
Dr RR Gangakhedkar, former head of Epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR

Madhya Pradesh (164 percent increase) followed by Assam (138 percent), Gujarat (125 percent) and Rajasthan (111 percent) have been showing a higher increase in cases than Delhi. Kerala has not yet been able to get rid of the initial wave of COVID-19 at the moment. In total, cases have increased in 17 of the 20 most populous states of the country.

Radhakrishnan, Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, told FIT that "3-4 weeks ago, 450-500 cases were being received and they did not come down. This is a matter of concern. Family-based clusters are showing in Chennai. Negligence in people is being seen. People aren’t following guidelines in marriages, funerals etc, and this is a major reason behind the growing case in the state.”

“Whatever the variants of COVID, we need to stress that we must first insist on continuing to follow the guideline.”
Radhakrishnan, Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu

Talking about the last one week only, he added, “On 4 March, the number of new active cases of COVID in Tamil Nadu was 482, while on 11 March the number of new cases was 685.”

Collectors have been given guidelines after three consecutive days of monitoring by the Health Department at markets, containment zones, marriage halls and railway stations in the state.

The guidelines state, “Unlike in March last year, now clinical protocols have been standardised and health facilities have been upgraded and oxygen capacities have been increased. Chennai still has a backup of 4,000 beds at Athipet. There should be a backup COVID Care Centre in other districts to keep asymptomatic cases. Similar backups can be taken into consideration for other districts as well. ”

According to Dr RR Gangakhedkar, “Unless there is a consistent trend you should not say that this is an emergence of a second wave. But this is the moment where we have to issue caution to people that they to need to continue to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour because if you don’t, we will end up in a second wave.

At the moment, the trend of data in India is constantly going up, which is a matter of concern.

(This story was first published on FIT and has been republished here with permission.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider

or more


3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!