India coronavirus numbers explained: Drop in number of tests during weekends results in discovery of fewer cases

India Coronavirus Cases: Thanks to the weekend effect, there was a significant drop in the number of new cases of novel Coronavirus reported on Monday. In fact, it was one of those rare occasions that the new cases were outnumbered by those who were declared to have recovered from the disease.

Weekends usually see a big drop in the number of tests that are being conducted. That results in discovery of fewer number of new infections. Since the reports of RT-PCR tests usually take a day or two to arrive, the drop in new cases is most visible on Mondays. This has been a trend that has been going on for quite some time.

The graph of daily tests in India, therefore, shows a very noticeable periodic sharp dips (see graph). These represent the lower number of testing on the weekends.

This weekend the dip in the testing numbers was more pronounced, because it came immediately after a new high of over one million tests a day was achieved. After 10.23 lakh tests on Friday, the number dropped to 8.01 lakh on Saturday, and further to just 6.09 lakh on Sunday. As a result, the number of new cases detected came down to less than 61,500 on Sunday, and dropped further to 60,975 on Monday. On four consecutive days before this, more than 68,000 new cases were being detected in the country.

On Monday, the number of tests went back to over 9.25 lakh. It is likely to result in a corresponding increase in the number of new cases on Tuesday.

Monday also saw the highest number of recoveries being reported so far, over 66,000. Coupled with the drop in the new cases, it led to a situation when the recoveries exceeded the new infections. This is not the first time it has happened. A similar situation had arisen last week as well, because of the same weekend effect.

The number of recoveries relative to the new cases every day is an important indicator to follow. If the recoveries exceed the new cases being discovered, and this trend continues for at least two weeks, this can possibly signal a stablisation and the beginning of a decline of the epidemic. This is what has been observed in Delhi where, on most days in the last one month, the recoveries have exceeded new detections. It has happened in some other states as well, but the trend has been short-lived. Delhi is the only place where it has held on for a prolonged period.

It’s been almost three weeks now that the number of new cases in India have been more than 60,000. But the 70,000-mark has not been breached till now, though it has come in close proximity to that number. In comparison, considerably lesser amount of time, just about a week or eight days, were spent in 50,000s, 40,000s and 30,000s. That could signal towards a relative stabilisation in the spread of the disease in India, particularly because this has happened despite a sharp increase in testing numbers during this period.

A decreasing trend is also being seen in the number of deaths being reported. After a high of 1,092 deaths reported on August, the number has been coming down steadily. On Monday, 848 deaths were reported. The death count in the country has risen to 58,390. Only the United States, Brazil and Mexico have recorded more Coronavirus deaths than India.