A day after COVID-19 fatalities in the State fell below 20 — for the first time in over three months — the number again shot up to 35 on Thursday. Two districts — Bengaluru Urban and Dakshina Kannada — reported nine and eight deaths, respectively, while fourteen districts reported zero deaths.
With a drop in new cases, although the daily fatalities too have been declining, the seven-day average Case Fatality Rate (CFR) in at least 18 districts is higher than the State average.
For the past one month, the State has been consistently reporting zero deaths in over a dozen districts, bringing down the seven-day average CFR from 3.01% on June 29 to 1.79% on July 29. However, districts such as Haveri, Bidar, Ramanagaram, Raichur, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Dharwad, and Kolar continue to see a high seven-day average CFR.
The seven-day average CFR, which was highest in Bagalkot last week at 18.18%, has reduced to 11.11% this week (seven days prior to July 28). Haveri, which had the fourth highest seven-day average CFR last week at 7.50%, now has the highest mortality rate at 25.93%.
As on July 28, the seven-day average CFR was less than 1% in 13 districts with the lowest in Chitradurga and Yadgir, which had 0%, followed by Udupi and Davangere that had 0.68% and 0.88%, respectively. In Bengaluru Urban, the seven-day average mortality rate has reduced from 2.05% on June 29 to 1.06% on July 29.
Till June 5, although there was a significant decline in new cases, the number of deaths remained intriguingly high. Data, however, showed that many deaths that occurred as early as in March, April, and May were being accounted for in the State media bulletins, leading to the high number.
Experts attributed the decline in fatalities to the easy availability of healthcare facilities such as oxygen and ICU beds, apart from drugs.
“During the peak of the second wave of infections, finding an ICU/oxygen bed was an ordeal for patients and many died waiting for a bed. But now, with availability of beds and oxygen, patients have access to better treatment facilities and prioritised care,” said a doctor who is part of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike death audit committee.
V. Ravi, who is nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka and is also part of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee, said the high rate of mortality in some districts could be because of late reporting. “People should not be under the impression that the pandemic has ended. Any symptom such as fever, cough, and breathlessness should not be neglected and people should report early,” he said.
“All districts are better equipped with health infrastructure now and the onus is on people to seek immediate healthcare. They should not let their guard down and should continue to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour,” he said.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said this was the usual pattern of growth and fall of CFR that was noticed during the first wave last year too. “Such fluctuations are common when the caseload is low. When there is a decline in the number of new cases, even few deaths are projected statistically as a high mortality rate,” he explained.
“What is important now is to sustain the low CFR. People should not become complacent. Early reporting will help in early intervention, thereby preventing complications,” he said.