(Photo: Shome Basu)
The second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India has been destructive, claiming more lives and infecting millions across the country. Over the last 15 days, more than 370,000 and over 3,200 deaths have been reported every day, on an average, across the country. The resurgence of the health crisis has also massively affected the country's mobility trends.
The sharp surge in infections during March and April crippled health systems across various cities, forcing state governments and local administrations to impose strict lockdown-like restrictions to contain the further spread of the disease.
As a result of these restrictions and curfews, mobility has once again been affected. Based on Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report data, Moneycontrol looked at how India’s mobility - to certain places of usual visit such as workplaces, residence, grocery/pharmacy, public transport, retail/recreation places and parks has changed over a period of time.
The mobility report measures changes compared to a baseline value before the pre-COVID lockdown (January 3 – February 6 2020) period.
With the call for lockdown last year, movement towards places of work dropped 72 percent from the baseline on March 25, 2020, the lowest recorded. Likewise, public movement towards transit stations such as bus and metro stations fell by over 70 percent in the initial days of the lockdown as things came to a standstill with restrictions on public transport.
Later, with improvement in the situation and gradual opening up of the economy in the subsequent months last year, mobility resurrected on the path to recovery. Now again with spurt in cases and restrictions, mobility has been affected, data shows.
Outings for retail and recreation--such as restaurants, cafés, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries and cinemas--have dropped by 55 percent (the most compared to other parameters) as on May 3. Likewise, going to parks, beaches and gardens have reduced by 40 percent.
While movement towards place of residence has picked up by 23 percent. As a result of partial lockdowns, as in the case of Delhi and Mumbai, we saw migrant workers moving back to their hometowns, though not as many as last year.
With people now working from home and restrictions imposed on employee attendance in several states, mobility to place of work has declined by 47 percent and that towards public transport (such as bus and train stations) by 43 percent. Visits to supermarkets, pharmacies and food shops have fallen by 14 percent, as people have been asked to stay at home and to venture out only if required utmost.
Let’s take a look at some of the worst affected states/UTs having high active cases and also how mobility patterns have been impacted in some of the major metro cities.
Maharashtra and Delhi governments were among the first to impose strict lock-down like measures in the month of April after witnessing a surge in cases. The respective governments have further extended these restrictions based on the ongoing situation.
Other states and local administrations have also imposed 'corona curfews' and partial restrictions depending on the severity of cases.
On May 7, the Karnataka Chief Minister called for a complete lockdown in the state starting from May 10 to May 24, in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the state.
The Rajasthan government too has announced a lockdown from May 10 to 24 with all private offices and commercial establishments to remain shut, except for essential services. The state has also prohibited intrastate movement with only emergency vehicles granted exemption.
Likewise, Kerala government announced a nine-day full lockdown in the state starting May 8. Currently, there are restrictions on unnecessary travel, a night curfew and partial lockdowns on weekends.
Here’s how mobility in these highly affected states and some of the major metro cities has changed over time:
With more states likely to impose lockdowns and further tighten the COVID-19-related curbs, the mobility trend is expected to be further hit in the days to come.
The second wave has so far not shown signs of relent in India. The country's case tally has now crossed the 21 million-mark with 414,188 new cases (highest ever single day spike) reported as per the health ministry’s May 7 update. Active cases are now above 3.6 million with Maharashtra reporting the most (641,281) cases, followed by Karnataka (517,095), Kerala (391,253), Uttar Pradesh (259,844) and Rajasthan (198,010). These five states account for 55 percent of the active cases in the country.