Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in India, States have kept their citizens informed through a daily health bulletin, a time-stamped document disseminated fairly regularly through government websites. The data contained in the document are being used by a wide range of analysts including epidemiologists and data scientists to keep a tab on India’s progression.
An analysis of such COVID-19-related health bulletins from various States shows a clear variance in data reporting. Most provide bare-bones information on cases and deaths, but only a few provide detailed information on patient demographics and the cause of deaths. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka provide the most comprehensive data, while Uttar Pradesh does not provide access to even case/death numbers on its government website.
How to read the table
The table checks for the availability of COVID-19-related data across 21 States and Union Territories that have a significant case load. “Yes” or “no” indicates the presence or absence of that particular data in the bulletin. In some cases, “okay” is used to indicate irregular or partial furnishing of the relevant data.
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Explanation of columns
1. Regular bulletins in English or/and local language
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular bulletins from the initial days of the pandemic to the recent days in either English or the local language or both.
Uttar Pradesh has been marked “no” as it does not disseminate the State health bulletin document on its government website. Rajasthan has been marked “no” as it does not disseminate the State health bulletin document on its government website. The State maintains a dashboard on its government website which is refreshed based on latest data.
2. Regular bulletins in English
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular bulletins from the initial days of the pandemic to the recent days in English.
3. Archives available
Marked as “yes” if a State maintains its health bulletin as an archive using which earlier reports can be downloaded.
4. Data on cases and deaths
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular data on cases and deaths on its State health bulletin document.
5. Data on samples tested
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular data on samples tested on its health bulletin document
6. Patient demographics
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular anonymised data on individual patients such as age, gender, hospitalised date and/or their travel history and whether they are primary patients or contacts of another patient.
7. District level data
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular data on district-wise cases/ deaths on their State health bulletin document.
8. Detailed data on deaths
Marked as “yes” if a State publishes fairly regular anonymised data on individual fatalities such as age, gender, hospitalised date, days spent in hospital, date on which the patient died and/or comorbidities of such patients.
Why is a health bulletin document necessary?
A health bulletin, which is published regularly (ideally, daily) helps maintain a time series of the infections, recoveries and deaths in a State. The presence of regularly released data files in a properly archived form helps in assessing the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in a State.
At a minimum, this helps us compare daily case/death figures. For those who want to delve deeper into data, such bulletins help decipher the long-term impact of the disease from its inception. Dashboards help provide current and updated numbers but are not a substitute to archived bulletins, as they do not help us gauge the progression of the infections beyond a daily snapshot.