Traffic congestion in Mumbai, Bengaluru nosedives in 2nd Covid wave

The traffic congestion index for major cities in some of the hardest-hit states – Mumbai (Maharashtra), Bengaluru (Karnataka), and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) – has nosedived in the past few weeks, and is winding back towards levels seen during the nationwide lockdown last April.

As per a Crisil report, all-India level retail mobility is starting to stutter. It grew by a marginal 0.7 percentage points in the last week, driven by the restrictions on movement introduced in Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra saw the highest fall in retail mobility among these states, by 5.2 percentage points.

Apart from mobility indicators, traffic congestion is also used as a proxy for tracking economic activity, it said.

As of April 12, daily Covid cases remained above the 1 lakh level. Increased testing could be one reason for this large figure. The number of samples tested, at 12 lakh plus per day in April 5-11, is higher than that seen around the peak of the first wave in September 2020 (11 lakh).

The other reason is a higher positivity rate, defined as the number of daily cases to number of tests, at 10.6 per cent in the second wave vs 6.4 per cent at the peak of the first wave.

The report said that Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, which are among the more affected in the second wave, have vaccinated relatively more people (per million) as of April 11. However, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, which continue to show high growth rate in new cases, are lagging.

Six states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – taken together accounted for 66 per cent of new cases in the April 5-11 week. This share was 75 per cent in the week prior – the dispersal indicating that more and more states are now beginning to experience the second wave.

Pace of vaccinations has begun to pick up in India, with vaccinations now open to the 45 plus age groups. India is now vaccinating more people per million than the world average. In the past week, 2,600 beneficiaries per million were vaccinated, higher than the world average of 2,170. Still, the massive population of the country poses a challenge, with daily vaccination lower than that in China and the US, the report said.