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Scientists comes up with study to identify Covid hotspots in India

The researchers have also identified the states and districts where the government should have a more tailored and targeted approach in case a future outbreak occurs

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

The researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi have identified the states with a high probability of being the first hotspots for the spread of Covid by reviewing the spread of viral disease and past pandemics in India for the study.

The researchers have also identified the states and districts where the government should have a more tailored and targeted approach in case a future outbreak occurs.

According to the study that was performed on 640 districts from April 1 to December 25, 2020, the hotspots of the pandemic in India have been states with high international migration and districts located close to large water bodies.

States such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh were the hotspots for the COVID-19 pandemic in India. In almost all of these states, international migration is a significant factor. For this reason, the researchers recommend that in future cases of pandemic outbreaks, travel to and from these states should be carefully monitored.

Researchers reviewed the past pandemics and found common patterns between the Spanish Flu (1918-1919), H1N1 (2014-2015), Swine Flu (2009- 2010), and COVID-19 (2019-2021) outbreaks. It shows water bodies have a strong influence on a region’s microclimate in terms of temperature and humidity, contributing significantly to regional climate change which is commonly referred to as the lake effect.

The research was led by Dr Sarita Azad, Associate Professor, and co-authored by Neeraj Poonia, research scholar, IIT Mandi. The findings of the research have been published in Current Science, a prestigious peer-reviewed journal.

Explaining the key findings of this research, Dr Sarita Azad said, “There has been a striking similarity in the focal point and route of transmission of different epidemics in India, such as Spanish flu, H1N1, Swine flu, and Covid-19. Mostly all the pandemics have started and found their epicenters in the northern, western, and southern parts of India.

Later, we also found that districts with direct access to large water bodies had a sudden increase in cases during monsoon (as high as 800%) compared to the preceding season. Hence, strict precautionary measures should be imposed in these districts before the beginning of monsoon season during an outbreak.”

Furthermore, the researchers have examined the temperature variations across districts that are close to large bodies of water to understand the spread of Covid in these areas. The average minimum and maximum temperatures in these districts are about 3 and 5 degrees Celsius lower than neighborhoods in July, which is attributed to the lake effect. The cooler climate conditions may have contributed to the increase in cases in districts that are close to water bodies.

In addition, the researchers have estimated R-values for these districts until 31st August 2020 and the results indicate that these values are much higher than those of the primary hotspot states.

They recommended a targeted approach to be taken in states with a higher international migration rate and recommended that strict precautionary measures should be taken in districts near large bodies of water before the monsoon season begins.