The world has been able to limit the covid-19 pandemic over the past few months, with just 3.5 million new cases being reported per week now, down 24% since August. This, and improving vaccinations, has prompted many governments to relax restrictions and reopen their economies. However, countries such as the US, UK, Germany and Russia are still reporting high caseloads. In the 20 such countries with the highest number of new confirmed cases, the easing of restrictions has been uneven, based on the trajectory of infections and vaccination rates, data shows.
Thirteen of these 20 countries have become less stringent in the last three months, shows an index developed by the University of Oxford based on nine indicators such as school and workplace closures and travel bans. Some of these, including the US, Brazil and Iran, have seen cases decline at least 43% in the period, and have also fully vaccinated over 55% of their population. In India and South Africa, the relaxation coincided with a drop in cases, but they have fully vaccinated less than 30% people, leaving them more vulnerable to future outbreaks.
Then there are countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, which have low vaccination rates, forcing tighter restrictions as cases have risen. Russia has fully vaccinated 35% of its population, while Ukraine has vaccinated 20%.
In contrast, the UK and Germany have relaxed restrictions in the last three months despite a rise in infections, but they have fully vaccinated at least 60% of their populations. Italy is one exception where the stringency index went up significantly despite a drop in infection count and a high vaccination coverage.
India’s pace of vaccination increased last week after a steady decline since September. From a daily average of 9.7 million doses in the third week of September, it dropped to 4.9 million in the week ended 11 November. In the past one week, it has increased to 6 million daily doses.
Sixteen states and Union territories have so far administered more than 1,000 doses per 1,000 population. Among states with over 10 million population, Himachal Pradesh leads with 1,368 doses per 1,000, followed by Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala. Earlier this month, India’s health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had set a target of inoculating 100% of the eligible population with the first dose by November-end. So far, 757 million of the eligible 940 million 18+ population have received at least their first dose. In order to meet the target in the remaining 12 days, India has to administer almost thrice the current numbers.
In focus: Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is reporting the 10th highest number of new cases in the country at present. It is the only region in the country where weekly cases have been increasing since the beginning of this month. From 551 cases in the first week of November, the number increased to 827 cases last week and to 1,110 cases now.
Currently, the Union territory has 1,513 active cases, up from 902 two weeks back. Of this, the Kashmir division accounted for 1,269 cases, with Srinagar district topping the list with 584 cases, despite fully vaccinating 66.6% of its population. Srinagar is followed by Baramulla (270), Ganderbal (114), and Badgam (113). In the Jammu division, Jammu (102) and Reasi (64) districts have the highest caseloads.
Barring Kishtwar, all districts have vaccinated 100 percent of their 18+ population with at least one dose.
India’s weekly caseload has been declining for the past eight weeks, with 78,019 new infections over the last seven days. Its active caseload at 128,762 is the lowest in the last 528 days. However, 22 states and Union territories have reported a rise in cases this week. In 18 of them, it has increased by less than 60 cases each. Jammu and Kashmir reported the highest increase, followed by West Bengal and Punjab. Kerala still accounts for 56.2% of the new confirmed cases in the country.
Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram are the only districts in India with over 5,000 weekly cases each. Kerala’s 1,725 deaths are 75% of total deaths in the country. A total of 24 states and UTs reported less than 10 deaths over the past seven days, out of which 7 reported none.
(www.howindialives.com is a database and search engine for public data)
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