In 90 days – July 1 to September 30 – active cases in Bengaluru shot up by over ten times from 4,649 to 47,145. During the same period, Chennai reduced active cases from 22,781 to 11,323, Mumbai brought down its active cases from 29,715 to 26,663.
The six mega cities in India – Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata – collectively had 89,695 active cases on July 1. While Bengaluru contributed 5.2% of this, Mumbai’s share was the largest with 33.1% followed by Delhi with 30.1% and Chennai 25.4%. Ahmedabad and Kolkata contributed 4% and 2.2% respectively. Cities that have a population of over one million are classified as mega cities.
Ninety days later on September 30, all the six mega cities collectively had 1,21,500 active cases, a rise by 26.2%. Active cases in Bengaluru that shot up to 47,145 accounted for 38.8% of the total active cases amongst six mega cities (as on September 30). Mumbai’s active cases share dropped from 33.1% to 21.9% and Chennai’s 25.4% to 9.3%, according to an analysis by Project Jeevan Raksha, a public-private partnership that is analyzing COVID-19 trends across the country.
Surge in mortality
Another area of grave concern is Bengaluru’s increased share of mortality in the mega cities group. On June 30, Bengaluru had recorded 95 COVID-19 fatalities, which was 0.9% of total 10,098 COVID-19 deaths among the six mega cities. Whereas, on September 30, Bengaluru’s fatalities increased to 2,936, 12.3% of total COVID-19 23,955 deaths in six mega cities, according to the analysis.
While the rise in active cases and deaths in Bengaluru may sound alarming, one good thing is that the test positivity rate (TPR) of Bengaluru fell from 19% to 14% from July 1 to September 30.
Mysore Sanjeev, convenor of Jeevan Raksha, said aggressive ramp-up of testing and an accelerated unlocking process are the two key reasons for a surge in the cases in all mega cities including Bengaluru. Stating that Bengaluru’s Testing Per Million (TPM) population increased from 30,828 to 1,07,086 since August, he said, “This resulted in an increase in active cases. Since Unlock 1.0 to the current Unlock 5.0, efforts have been on to move towards normalcy by adhering to social distancing protocols. Unfortunately, a majority of people continue to lead their life in accordance with the pre-COVID-19 period flouting all norms of social distancing and mask-wearing.”
Giridhar R. Babu, member, State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee, said cities that saw a surge much earlier compared to Bengaluru managed to drop their active caseload to some extent in the last two months.
“With the case surge starting late in Bengaluru. It is only natural that the burden is higher here. Also, the city is increasing tests progressively. The case count is not of worry as long as the health system can handle it,” he said.
“Also, an increase in active cases indicates that people in newer outlying areas are getting infected. In the absence of a vaccine, the virus always finds uninfected prey in new areas,” he added.