Rising COVID R-Value In Bhubaneswar & Puri Rings Alarm Bells

Bhubaneswar: In what could raise concern, the ‘R-Value’ is inching up in some big cities of Odisha.

According to the latest data assessment by the Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Bhubaneswar and Puri have reported an R count of over 1 between July 23 and August 1. The R-value was the highest at 1.24 in Bhubaneswar, followed by 1.13 in Puri and 0.97 in Cuttack city. This was more than the state average of 0.89 per cent.

Besides Cuttack (0.91) and Khurda (0.94) districts, the R estimation is 0.92 in Kandhamal.

A senior researcher at IMSc Prof Sitabhra Sinha told the media that the situation can rapidly escalate in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri if proper containment measures are not put in place. “We must be very cautious while opening up places that can lead to crowding as these can turn into potential super-spreaders events,” he warned.

The 95% vaccination cover in Bhubaneswar will be of little help if people throw the safety precautions to the winds. Being fully vaccinated does not mean, a person cannot get infected and pass on the infection to others, he said.

“The administration should be watchful in these three cities,” he said.

Notably, while announcing unlock measures for August, the state government had decided to continue with the weekend shutdown at these three places with a high caseload.

Sinha further said that the R-value is very close to one at some more places, including Bhadrak and Jagatsinghpur, and there is every chance of it may cross one in the near future.

It may be ‘the precursor of a new (COVID-19) wave’, unless the R number subsides in the next few days, he added.

In a media briefing, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said that the increasing ‘R-Value’ in eight states is a “significant problem”.

He asserted that the Delta-driven second wave is still not over. “US, Canada, Australia, and India have 1.2 R number, on average. This means one infected individual is infecting more than one person. R number is high in eight states of India,” Agarwal added.

The states showing an increase in the R factor are — Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, Karnataka, Puducherry, and Kerala.

On Tuesday, Director of Medical Education and Training (DMET) Dr CBK Mohanty had said COVID third wave will not be that severe in Odisha as cases are declining. “Rising cases in Kerala and Maharashtra point towards the arrival of the third wave. Even though Delta variant is rampant in the state, transmission is not that high,” he said.

The DMET had earlier said that the rate of transmission cannot be alone calculated by mathematical models and also depends on the response of the body as it is in the realm of biological science. “It is not necessary that the two will match every time,” he said.

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