On August 2, India recorded the highest daily fresh coronavirus cases in the world

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The total number of novel coronavirus cases reported in India crossed 1.8 million on August 2, while it also recorded the most number (52,672) of daily fresh cases in the world. The U.S. reported 47,335, while Brazil had 25,800 cases on August 2.

The total number of novel coronavirus cases reported in India crossed 1.8 million on August 2, which is 2.5 times less than cases reported in the U.S. But on the same day, India achieved an ignoble distinction of having the greatest number of daily fresh cases reported in the world. With 52,672 fresh cases reported on August 2, India surpassed the U.S (47,335) and Brazil (25,800).

The number of daily fresh cases crossed the 50,000 mark for the first time on July 25, and has remained over 50,000 since July 29. It reached a peak of 57,486 on July 31.

Not much should be read about the most number of daily fresh cases in the world that India reported on August 2 as this might as well turn out to be an aberration. But even if it is a statistical blimp, it is still significant.

Test positivity rate

With 1.8 million cases so far, the cumulative test positive rate is still high at 8.9%, while the daily test positivity rate is even higher at 13.8% for August 2. The daily test positivity rates on August 1 (11.8%), July 31 (10.9%), July 30 (8.5%) and July 29 (11.7%) have been high.

A high test positivity rate strongly suggests that the number of tests carried out daily should be increased sharply. In other words, a high test positivity rate suggests that the number of infected people in the community is high and can be diagnosed early only when the number of tests carried daily is increased. If not done, these infected people would transmit the virus to others leading to further spread in the community.

21-day doubling time

If the first 0.9 million cases were reported on July 13, it took just about 20 days to reach 1.8 million cases. “The doubling rate is about 21 days. At this rate, the number of cases will reach 3.6 million in the next 21 days. If the rate of increase drops a little it might take a couple of days more to double,” says Dr Rijo M. John who is a Health Economist and an independent consultant.

Why are daily tests reducing?

After crossing 0.5 million tests done in a single day on July 26 (5,15,472) and July 27 (5,28,082), the number of tests done each day dropped for two consecutive days (July 28 and 29).

Referring to reduced number of tests on August 2 (3,81,027), Dr John says that the number of tests carried out has been generally low on Sundays. But he is concerned about the number of positive cases remaining above 50,000 even when the number of tests carried out has been reducing since July 30.

On July 30, India carried out 6,42,588 tests — the highest number tested in a single day. “But instead of increasing the number of daily tests or at least maintaining the number, ICMR has actually been reducing the number of people tested since July 30,” he says. The number of tests on July 31 reduced to 5,25,689, and then fell to 4,63,172 on August 1, and dropped even further to 3,81,027 on August 2.

“Even when the number of daily tests reduced since July 29, the number of cases reported on each single day has remained above 50,000,” he says. So, is ICMR reducing the daily tests to keep the number of fresh cases reported each day at around 50,000?

In a tweet, Dr John says Andhra Pradesh continues to have the highest daily growth of 7.2% (national average being 3.3%). But the State had carried out its highest tests per million (1,770) on August 2. On August 2, Maharashtra, despite having the highest number of cases (9,509) and deaths (260), carried out fewer tests per million (506). Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal too have relatively low tests per million despite a high caseload, he says.