Splainer

Thursday, August 20 2020


Dive In

It was pointed out that no reasons have been given for the said illegal termination of their services aside from saying that the company is facing ‘tough financial conditions’. This reasoning appears to be a convenient, but patently false excuse, since you have retained the Advertising and Marketing teams whereas the services of some of the most qualified and senior editorial team, which formed the backbone of the paper, have been terminated.

That’s part of a legal notice sent to The Hindu by its former employees—who say they were unfairly terminated without proper severance. This marks the first time Indian journalists have pushed back against widespread layoffs—often conducted in secret and without due process. Illustration: Parth Savla.

Big Story

The mystery of India’s Covid numbers

The TLDR: Since we are not going to wade into the Sushant Singh Rajput mess, we decided instead to decode the mystery of two warring headlines. The Indian Express’ front page story reads: “Hope in numbers: Daily cases stable for two weeks, tests show fewer positives.” OTOH, Times of India declares: ‘Record 70k+ new cases in a day, 13k just in Maharashtra’. Can both be true? The answer: yes. Here’s a quick breakdown of the numbers.

 

The big all-India picture

A bird’s eye view of India numbers is indeed rosier. Indian Express is upbeat for that very reason.

 

One: The positivity rate—the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive—is coming down, falling from a peak of 9.01% on August 9 to 8.72%. 

 

This may be because more states are testing at random (increasing the chances of uninfected people being tested). But as the Express notes, more parts of the country are still doing targeted testing. Also, we are testing more than ever:

 

“When the number of daily new detection of infected cases had first crossed the 60,000 mark in the first week of August, around 6.5 lakh samples were being tested every day. Now, about 8.5 lakh tests are being conducted every day. Usually, higher number of tests results in higher detection of positive cases.”

 

Also: As per recent serological surveys, far greater numbers were infected and recovered with only mild or zero symptoms. These people too will bring down the positivity rate as they will show up as negative in random testing.

 

Two: That brings us to the second bit of good news. The number of daily new cases has been fairly stable at the mid-60K mark for two weeks—despite increased testing! This is in sharp contrast to recent months, when our numbers rose quickly—speeding past each milestone. We went in a week from 30,000 to 40,000, and then to 50,000 a week later. And we stayed in that 50K range for only eight days. 

 

Point to note: Times of India—which tracks these numbers independently—says that this number crossed 70K on Wednesday. The official number is 69,652. Even so, it remains to be seen whether or not this is a one-day anomaly. Due to delays in processing and recording test results, the daily average can vary quite a bit. For example: weekend numbers are always low.

 

Three: Our recovery numbers have been very healthy, crossing the two million mark. The daily number of recovered patients is now larger than the daily new cases. Our overall recovery rate is 73.18%.

 

The state-specific picture

This is where the picture becomes far less rosy.

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • India is haemorrhaging jobs
  • Facebook India faces rebellion
  • TikTok is not going anywhere
  • Wanna shuffle your Netflix watchlist?

 

Smart And Curious

  • Kate Spade’s top-selling bag looks like a pineapple and costs $348
  • Say hello to Malai—bio-composite material made from coconuts in Kerala
  • The latest innovation in pandemic-friendly airline design is ‘Pure Skies’
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