In contrast, Delhi, where the second wave saw the daily caseload soar to 25,000-plus, has seen 817 cases between July 1 and 10. Many major cities have a two-digit daily tally.
There is no scientific answer yet as to why Maharashtra and Kerala continue to post a high number of cases almost six months into the second wave, but theories abound. Public health officials in the two states say the high numbers are a testimony of their transparent system and accurate reporting.
One theory is that these numbers indicate a “blip” in the second wave. “These states reported the first cases/clusters in the country during both peaks. The high cases now could indicate another rise in the Covid graph,” said a senior doctor from Mumbai who didn’t want to be identified.
In Maharashtra, doctors point to the curious case of Kolhapur, where the second wave has possibly just peaked with daily cases over 3,000 for the last fortnight as against under 800 in Mumbai. “We have begun referring to this district as the ‘Kolhapur paradox’,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state government’s task force on Covid-19. “It has the highest vaccinated percentage of 70% in the entire state, but it has the highest daily test positivity of over 10%,” said Dr Joshi. The Kolhapur cases, according to officials, are being reported among younger people who haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.
Epidemiologist Dr Giridhar Babu said both Kerala and Maharashtra have different reasons for their high numbers. “There is an issue with home isolation in Kerala. People in isolation are spreading it to others at home,” he said. But the fact that Kerala has low hospitalisation rates and low deaths – 1,254 between July 1 and 10 as against 3,089 in Maharashtra – indicates awareness about reaching out for healthcare in time. “Kerala also has better immunisation rates,” he said.
Regarding Maharashtra, he said various districts have witnessed peaks at different times. The real concern, he said, is that higher numbers indicate the virus is very much in circulation.
Maharashtra state officials said July cases so far have dropped to the pre-peak levels in March. The peak-time daily average of 60,000 cases has reduced to a tenth, but the plateau has the government worried. “There are eight districts that continue to be a cause for concern,” said a state official.