In the last 24 hours, India reported 1,03,558 cases, the country's highest daily count since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on January 30, 2020. While the country was witnessing a peak in the months of September and October 2020, this wave has been regarded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the second wave of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
India's second wave has witnessed the same trajectory as most countries around the world. After reaching a minimum of 8,635 cases on February 2, 2021, in a span of sixty days, the country saw a massive increase in the number of cases. The months of January and February also observed a decrease in the daily tests. India's previous daily highest number of cases were reported on September 17, 2020. India reported 97,894 cases on this day.
The graph below showcases India's cases on the first and last day of every month beginning from August 2020.
During the months of November and December last year, the country was seeing a higher number of recoveries than diagnoses. From dropping to only 90-120 deaths, we are now witnessing around 400-700 deaths, again. The case fatality, however, is still low and the recovery rate is at 92.8%.
A sudden increase in the cases being reported from Maharashtra, Kerala, and Punjab put the country on alert about an upcoming second wave. The British, South African, and Brazilian mutant variants also contributed to the impending second wave. Several states across the country have crossed their highest daily cases that they reported during the months of September- October.
Maharashtra is turning out to be an area of concern as the State has been reporting about 50% of the daily caseload across the country. Along with the foreign variants, there are also indigenous variants that have been reported across Maharashtra. A variant of particular interest has been the double mutant variant that has two-point mutations which could potentially be more infectious but its severity is still being studied.
After the case burden started decreasing, several states relaxed many of their lockdown guidelines to re-start economic activity. The surge of the past few weeks has led to states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat imposing a fresh set of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
Epidemiologists that BOOM have spoken to believe that the variants should be monitored but they are not necessarily the reasons for the surge in the cases. Relaxation in people's attitudes toward social distancing as well as wearing masks has been noted as one of the possible reasons fuelling the increase in Maharashtra.
At every weekly press briefing held by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, and NITI Aayog member Dr. Vinod K. Paul have repeatedly asked people to continue social distancing, wearing masks and practicing hand hygiene in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination. India has already given close to 7,91,05,163 COVID-19 vaccine shots including first and second doses for health care workers, frontline workers as well as first doses for people older than 45.