Research by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai has shown that India’s coronavirus transmission rate has increased for the first time since March, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

The virus reproduction rate rose in the first week of July to 1.19 after steadily falling from peak transmission of 1.83 since March 4. The rate needs to be below one for authorities to flatten the new curve of infections in the country.

The current transmission rate signifies that each infected person on average infects 1.19 people, Dr Sitabhra Sinha, a scientist at the institute, told the newspaper. “It usually takes 10 days to two weeks for any effect to show up as increased or decreased case numbers,” Sinha added. “So, I would say that this increase we are seeing probably has its origin in events that happened around mid-June or slightly later. The bottom line is that right now we are in the situation we were in in May and early June, and the further decrease we saw in late June was not sustained or improved upon.”

After the lockdown restrictions were eased, the transmission rate picked up between July 2 and July 5 to 1.19. It was at 1.2 by early June and reached 1.11 by June 26.

Data showed that Delhi and Haryana have improved, whereas Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh had the highest transmission rate. Meanwhile, the virus has slowed down in some states where it was spreading faster, with Gujarat at 1.15 and West Bengal at 1.1.

Sinha said other states like Assam and Rajasthan are not currently consistent enough for estimation. However, his modelling said that India’s total active cases could reach around 6 lakh by the end of July. Maharashtra, the worst affected state, could have over 1.5 lakh active cases by July 21. Tamil Nadu, which currently has 46,483 active cases, could touch 1 lakh.

The explosion in the number of active cases can further overwhelm India’s medical infrastructure.

India reported 24,879 new cases on Thursday, taking the total to 7,67,296. It also recorded 487 deaths, increasing the toll to 21,129. More than 4.76 lakh people have recovered in the country.

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