Covid-19 cases spike in 6 states as migrants return

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Six states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam — that send a large number of migrant workers have shown a sharper rise in cases than the rest of the country, particularly over the last two weeks, data shows.

While the total cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in these states have grown 8.2 times since May 1, cases in the rest of the country have grown only 7 times, according to an analysis by HT.

The number of daily cases in these six states has seen a huge spike, particularly over the past few weeks when migrants started returning to their home states.


All six states have seen a sharp rise over the past three weeks. The weekly average new cases in four of these states – Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand – are currently at an all-time high. Only Bihar and Odisha are currently not at the peak of their outbreak, however they have not reported any significant downturn in new cases as well.

To be sure, these states have also increased their daily testing in the same time period and almost all of the country has seen a major spike in cases in this period as well. So in order to remove these factors from our analysis, we also looked at how the share of cases in these states has changed in the national Covid-19 tally (Chart 2).

While these states were contributing 10.5% of total cases in the country on May 1, this number has since increased to almost 12% by June 8. In fact, only 8% of new cases reported across the country in the week between May 1 and May 7 came from these six states. This number has since doubled to 16% in the week between June 2 and June 8.

Their share of deaths in the total toll, meanwhile, has grown from 7.4% between May 1 to May 7 to 10% in the week between June 2 and June 8.

Finally, we look at the rate of the spread of the virus in the six states (Chart 3). In order to keep comparisons between these states uniform and to compare different stages of the outbreak, we have taken Day 1 as the first day each state reported over 100 cases.

We see that four of these states – Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha – have charted very similar trajectories since the time they crossed 100 total cases. The rate of increase started rising only after 30 to 40 days since the start of the larger outbreak. Assam, meanwhile, paints an alarming picture. Only 22 days since reporting its 100th case, the north eastern state has reported close to 3,000 cases. Only Uttar Pradesh (1,337 cases by Day 22) reported more than 800 cases in the same time period.

Jharkhand has been relatively safe. It is the only state among the six considered that has seen a very gradual increase in cases (as can be seen in Chart 3). Forty-three days since it reported its 100th case, Jharkhand reported 1,290 cases. In the same time period, the remaining states had at least two to three times the total number of cases.

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