Why the drop in the positivity rate could indicate a third wave ebb

After 10 days of almost steady decline in the detection of new coronavirus cases, the positivity rate has started to drop as well, indicating that the third wave in india could really have started its downward journey.

The past two days have seen a decline in the weekly positivity rate, from 16.84% on Thursday to 15.63% on Saturday. This is the first time in over a month that the weekly positivity rate has dropped. The positivity rate measures the proportion of people who test positive out of the total number of people tested. It is a good indicator of how fast the disease is spreading through the population or how prevalent it is.

This is the first time in over a month that the weekly positivity rate has dropped.

During the third wave, the positivity rate is considered a much better indicator of the spread of the disease than the daily number of cases. Indeed, a large majority of cases go undetected and many people, even with symptoms, do not get tested due to the mild nature of the disease caused by the Omicron variant and the relatively quicker recovery time. In addition, a significant proportion of people are using home testing kits, the results of which are often not included in the official case tally.

India’s weekly positivity rate had dipped below half a percent in the third week of December before starting to rise amid a growing number of infections caused by the Omicron variant. It had risen continuously thereafter, until Friday, when a bottom was first seen.

However, a positivity rate of more than 15% remains very high. Considering the entire duration of the pandemic in India, taking into account all positive cases detected so far and the number of tests carried out, the positivity rate is less than six percent. For a brief period during the second wave, however, the weekly positivity rate had reached 22%.

More than half of all Indian districts, 388 out of 734, continue to have a weekly positivity rate above 10%. Another 144 have positivity rates between 5 and 10%. That leaves 202 districts with a positivity rate below 5%, according to Health Ministry data.

Unsurprisingly, some of the highest positivity rates are currently in Kerala, where most districts have reported over 40% positivity. Four districts – Ernakulam, Kottayam, Idukki and Thiruvananthapuram – have positivity rates above 50%. One district each in Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Haryana, and three in Arunachal Pradesh also have over 50% positivity at the moment.

Kerala has reported more than 50,000 new cases in the past five days now, with its contribution to the national caseload now exceeding 20%. Of the major states, it is the only one not yet showing signs of a decline in daily case counts. Andhra Pradesh has also not declined, but there the number of cases is around 12,000. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, two other states reporting more than 25,000 cases each day, appear to have reached their highs in the third wave and are now descending.

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