NEW DELHI: India on Friday became the second country in the world after the US to register one crore (10 million) confirmed Covid-19 cases even as the pandemic continued to recede in the country.
It took 29 days for cases in India to increase from nine million to 10 million, making it the slowest rise since the first million cases.
Even average daily deaths during these 29 days were the lowest after the first one million. India’s Covid numbers have been falling for three months now, ever since the caseload crossed five million on September 15.
The country’s total caseload crossed the grim one crore milestone after 27,022 fresh infections took the tally to 1,00,04,893 on Friday night. The US has recorded over 1.7 crore till now while Brazil is in third place with a count of over 71 lakh. Both countries have recorded a much higher number of cases and deaths than India in the past few days.
Deaths per million in India stand at 104, the second lowest among the world’s 20 worst-hit countries. Only Indonesia, which is currently at number 20 in total caseload, has had fewer deaths per million at 71.
In terms of daily cases, India hit its peak almost exactly three months ago on September 17, when 98,795 fresh infections were recorded in a single day. In these three months, cases have surged for a few weeks at a stretch in some states such as Delhi but the overall trend has been of a steady decline despite the festive season and further relaxations in restrictions across states.
Southern states see most dramatic decline in cases
Some of the most dramatic decreases in cases were seen in the southern states, which, along with Maharashtra, were a major contributor to India’s Covid surge from July to October.
When India’s caseload hit nine million on November 19, the southern cases had a 37% share in the total tally. In the last one million cases, the south’s share had dropped to 27% despite numbers in Kerala continuing to remain relatively high.
India remains one of only two nations among the 10 worst-hit countries of the world which is yet to see a second surge in cases. The other country is Argentina. The reason(s) why India’s numbers have been consistently falling for three months now remain in the realm of speculation.
The last countrywide serological survey, for which results are publicly available, was carried out in August. It said 6.6% of Indians aged 10 and above had had the infection. That meant, in absolute numbers, around 6.9 crore Indian (aged 10 and above) had been infected by August, since there are around 105 crore Indians in that age bracket.
Only the latest survey will reveal where the numbers stand in more recent months but it’s unlikely that the figure would be high enough for herd immunity to start kicking in, except perhaps in some pockets of the country.