For the first time in the last 41 days of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, Odisha’s daily test positivity rate dropped below 10 per cent raising hopes of quick decline in cases and an end to lockdown in the state.
On Sunday, Odisha reported 7,002 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours from a test sample of 71,973 with a positivity rate of 9.72, the first time daily TPR dropped below 10% after going above it on April 26 when 6,073 people tested positive. However, the number of deaths remained high as 42 fatalities were reported over the last 24 hours. The number of daily fatalities has been over 40 for the last 5 days.
Director of Health Services Bijay Mohapatra said the declining TPR and number of cases showed that Odisha was seeing a decline in transmission. “From 24 per cent 3 weeks ago to less than 10 is a good sign. If the fall continues to be like this the state government can slowly lift lockdown in a phased manner. Hopefully by the end of this month we would be in a comfortable position. Odisha government’s 3T formula- Tracking, Testing and Tracing to contain Covid-19 is succeeding,” said Mohapatra. Odisha on May 30 had extended its lockdown and complete weekend shutdown in the entire state to June 17.
The decline in daily TPR notwithstanding, at least 19 of the 30 districts in the state continued to have weekly average TPR of over 10 per cent between May 30 and June 5 with Bhadrak leading the chart at 34 per cent followed by Dhenkanal at 31 per cent, Jajpur at 23.55, Khordha at 22.51, Balasore at 21.3 and Puri at 20.3. The state also has a TPR of over 13.53 per cent (last seven days average) as against the national average of 6.68 per cent.
With 70,673 active cases, Odisha was at No 6 position among all the states and ahead of states like West Bengal (44,441), Chhattisgarh, (26,977), Rajasthan (21,550), Gujarat (22,110) and Uttar Pradesh (19,434).
Noted microbiologist Dr TM Mohapatra said despite the daily TPR going below 10, the state would take some more time before the situation can be termed to be in control.
“The weekly TPR continues to be high in 15 districts and more number of RT-PCR tests needed in those places to check the transmission under control. The government delayed in ramping up the tests in rural areas and this is leading to high TPR and rising fatalities. The actual number of fatalities may be higher as many such cases are not being recorded by the government machinery,” he said.
Mohapatra said the fatalities may be rising due to high number of unvaccinated people getting infected, many patients reporting to hospitals at a later stage and ICMR and AIIMS treatment protocol not being followed by most Covid-19 dedicated hospitals.
Public health activist and state convenor of Jana Swasthya Abhiyan, Gouranga Mohapatra also said Odisha is still not in a comfortable position. “The tests were ramped up over last fortnight and by that time the rural surge of Covid-19 had started. The rising fatalities that we are seeing right now is due to delayed detection of cases in rural areas where number of oxygen beds and ventilators may not be available. The deaths may also be rising due to addition of backlog cases over last few weeks. But the total number of deaths may be higher due to undercounting,” said Mohapatra.
However, health officials said the deaths may be rising due to several Covid-19 patients turning critical. “Many patients whose condition had turned critical over the past few weeks may be succumbing to Covid-19 and that could be the reason of rising deaths,” said director of health Bijay Mohapatra.