How the Tablighi Jamaat event at Nizamuddin impacted India's COVID-19 curve
All across India there has been a serious spike in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last two days. How much of that has to do with the Tablighi Jamaat event held in Delhi? Let the data tell you a story.
According data released by the ministry of health and family welfare, 386 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Tuesday. Making it the largest single day jump in numbers in India's tryst with the novel coronavirus crisis.
In it's press briefing, the joint secretary of the health ministry, Lav Agarwal, hinted that most of this sudden jump can be attributed to the Tablighi Jamaat meet fiasco which took place in mid-march in New Delhi's Nizamuddin area.
At least six states have reported COVID-19 cases which could be traced back to the days-long religious congregation at the Markaz. Tamil Nadu reported 110 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, all of which had attended the Tablighi jamaat conference. Of the 32 new COVID-19 cases recorded in Delhi on Wednesday, 29 are members of the Tablighi Jamaat. Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said that 70 out of 86 total cases in Andhra Pradesh can traced back to event as well. At least 143 cases from Karnataka were found to have attended the event. Similar reports of a sudeen spike in numbers emerged from various other states of India.
This means, this one event could potentially negate the social distancing measures that the government and the citizes have taken over the last few weeks.
Lav Agarwal said, "I want to highlight that this steep increase doesn't represent a national trend, but we all know how a single mistake can have an impact on growth in number of cases."
Shamika Ravi, the Director of Research at Brookings India and a former member of PM's Economic Advisory Council, also has similar opinions.
She tracks the numbers every day and observes where the growth rate is going. As in, whether "the curve" is flattening or rising.
On Wednesday she tweeted saying "a clear and significant rise in the growth rate of confirmed cases in India. We are now doubling every 4 days. The Nizamuddin effect begins to emerge from March 29th (approx 2 weeks from congregation). Violations in social distancing have real impact!"
According to her, "we've reversed some of the early gains. Early gains, that were acheived by some of the policy measures like early travel ban from hotspot countries, closing of schools and states invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act. The growth rate of active cases in the last 5 days is 17.4%."
This means the record growth rate in the last couple of days has the number of cases double in 4 days from the earlier 5 days.
With this massive impact on India's number of COVID-19 cases, the Tablighi Jamaat event has emerged as the “largest known viral vector” of the novel coronavirus in South Asia. With more than 4,000 attendees including people from Malaysia and Indonesia - tracing, testing and quarantining them across India has become the government's biggest challenge at this moment.
We must ignore tha communal narrative that's being spun around the event by some parts of the media, but we can't but worry about what an impact this single event can have onIndia's fight against COVID-19.