Number Of Containment Zones Spikes In India Amid Easing Lockdown
A workers uses a social distancing marker in India. Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg

Number Of Containment Zones Spikes In India Amid Easing Lockdown

Since India allowed economic activity to resume after more than two months of strict curbs to contain the pandemic, the pace at which the nation is adding areas with severe outbreak has spiked.

The number of containment zones in India rose 1.5 times to 8,655 in June, according to data provided to BloombergQuint by Legistify, a startup mapping areas with high incidence of infections. All kinds of economic activity, except essential services, remains barred in these localities.

The total tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surged nearly threefold during the period to cross 5.6 lakh by the end of June. As of July 9, it's crossed 7.6 lakh, including more than 21,000 deaths.

The virus, which initially swamped New Delhi and Mumbai, is now spreading at a faster pace outside the two metropolitan hotspots.

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have the highest number of confirmed cases. Maharashtra leads with maximum containment zones, followed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi as on June 30. The number in Bengal fell after Kolkata changed the reporting format to separately list containment zones and isolated units—or individual homes with people quarantined.

Tamil Nadu, with the second-highest case count, reimposed a complete lockdown in the last week of June, essentially making the entire state a containment zone.

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, doesn’t feature among the top five states with containment zones. Gujarat, which has the fourth-highest tally, also doesn’t have that many containment zones.

Both Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat rank low among large states in tests per million of population.

"That doesn't mean all is good there," Pratik Mohapatra, co-founder of Legistify, told BloombergQuint over the phone. Mohapatra said the number of containment zones is also directly related to tests being done by states. “We have seen places where the testing is more, the containment zones also shoot up.”

Delhi has seen its containment zones count double after it started antigen testing, he said. “UP is an unexplored area because of (lack of) testing.”

He also said that cases per containment zones are higher in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

“What’s happening in UP and Gujarat is a clustered approach where focus and intensity is higher in particular areas, that’s why containment zones is less but number of cases are higher."

Telangana, emerging as one of the fastest growing hotspots, had 56 containment zones as on June 30.

Resurgence In Big Cities

Two cities in Maharashtra—Mumbai and Thane—are among the top 10 cities with the most number of containment zones. Kolkata had the highest number of containment zones at 1,796 as of June 29, followed by Mumbai.

But the number for Kolkata shrunk to 18 by June 30 as the state revised its reporting structure and started separately listing isolation units, individual homes within containment zones with people in quarantine. As of June 30, Kolkata had 1,872 isolation units.

Bengaluru, now with second-highest number of containment zones, has seen a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in the last few weeks. That's because cities that resumed economic activity have shown a fresh spike in cases.

Bengaluru, which until two weeks ago was celebrated for having kept the virus spread in check, is now seeing a steady rise in cases.

“Bengaluru is an upcoming hotspot as they opened up almost everything after relaxations, and people started flouting rules,” said Shivansh Pathania, business development lead at Legistify who has been monitoring the containment zones. “Now they are shutting down as quickly as they opened up.”

In the last one week alone, the number containment zones in Bengaluru has gone up nearly six times. During the period, the number of cases in Bengaluru rose threefold to 11,361 as of July 7.

Mumbai, too, has seen the number of cases reported every day shoot up after the city started reopening in phases.

Pace Of Fresh Infections Jumps In Smaller Cities

An analysis of numbers from Tier-II cities showed that the virus has making inroads there as well, as people return homes from large cities. Ujjain, Indore, Raipur, Aurangabad, and Chandigarh have seen the number of containment zones rise.

While Indore had 100 containment zones as on June 1, this tally shot up to 174 by July 2, data provided by Legistify showed. Similarly, Raipur that had no containment zone as on June 1 had 106 by July 2, suggesting the virus is spreading fast in tier-II cities.

“The (large) urban areas are reaching a little bit of saturation as far as the spread of the virus is concerned,” said Pathania. “Because of migration of people and flouting of rules in smaller towns, we are seeing a steady increase in the containment zones.”

A case in Patna serves as an example. More than 100 people who attended a wedding in Bihar’s capital on June 15 tested positive for the coronavirus, after the groom went ahead with a wedding even after showing signs of Covid-19. Over 350 guests had attended wedding, the Indian Express reported. The rules bar more than 50 in a wedding.

In Odisha’s Ganjam district too, more than 50 guests participated in the wedding.

We expect the next spread is actually going to come from smaller towns, as the social distancing norms and other precautions are easily being flouted in those towns.
Shivansh Pathania, Business Development Lead, Legistify
BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.