On January 25, a student from Thrissur in Kerala returned home amid talk of a mysterious new illness that had by then affected thousands in China. She was studying medicine in Wuhan, and two days later, upon developing a sore throat, she was quick to report her symptoms and get admitted to a government hospital. On January 30, exactly six months ago, she became India’s first Covid-19 case.

When India reported its first case on January 30, there were already over 8,000 cases worldwide, but just one per cent of them, including the Thrissur case, were outside China. The United Kingdom and Italy, which went on to become among the world’s worst-affected countries just two months later, had seen no cases yet, while the United States had just five.

For the first month, the only other new cases India registered were of two other students who had returned at the same time. Over the next month, India added over 1,000 new cases, as infections popped up in Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka among others, and a nationwide lockdown was imposed towards the end of the month. Cases grew exponentially in April, setting up the outbreak as we know it.

Every month since January 30, India has accounted for a growing share of the world’s cases, and now makes up nearly 10 per cent of the world’s total burden, and roughly 20 per cent of new cases each day.

Six months of Covid in India: How the pandemic spread to almost every neighbourhood 1

For the first month, cases were restricted to Kerala, and even in March, it contributed the largest share of India’s cases. From April onwards, Maharashtra has had the most cases, followed by Tamil Nadu and Delhi. In its sixth month now, the pandemic is more widespread across Indian states than it has ever been.

District-wise data compiled by ‘covid19india.org’ shows that the pandemic has filtered steadily into most Indian districts, until a point now where it is in virtually every Indian district. By February-end, only three districts had reported a coronavirus case, which went up to almost 450 by the end of April. And there’s been no looking back since.

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