Today COVID-19 cases are drastically increasing in India despite the prolonged lockdown. The very first case in our country was detected on 30 January. And the infected person had a travel history from Wuhan, China which is the epicenter of this pandemic.
The tally, as of today in India is at 333,008, and the death toll has crossed the 9,500 mark. The world is seeing over 100,000 fresh coronavirus cases daily, according to John Hopkins University. And the total number of COVID-19 cases has surpassed 77.6 lakh while the death toll has crossed 4.29 lakh. India by far is the fourth worst-hit nation considering the number of COVID-19 cases, after the US, Brazil, and Russia. India has certainly surpassed China in its number of COVID-19 cases in the month of May itself.
In fact, the number of COVID-19 cases have crossed the China mark in Maharashtra also. Currently, the COVID-19 cases in China are recorded at 83,182 with around 4,634 cases till today.
The main reason behind these rapidly increasing cases is the recent lockdown relaxations, the onset of domestic flights and trains in the country. Officials also attribute this constant surge in COVID-19 cases to high population density, very high testing thereby breaking the social distancing norms and making them almost non-functional.
When we look at why the trajectory in COVID-19 cases is following the United States and is likely to reach a plateau rather than peak soon, as one of China’s top infectious disease experts has said. We already have witnessed early signs of community transmission in India, it is now more likely to follow the trend of the U.S. and Europe rather than limit cases to a low number, said Zhang Wenhong, a leading expert in China’s COVID-19 strategy
He further added that the overall situation in India may be similar to that of the U.S.But the measures incorporated in each state in the U.S. are quite different. As some states are strict and some have resumed normalcy. So India has to consider how the economy functions and how the pandemic can be controlled, so it does not have to pay a high price for COVID-19 pandemic prevention. At this juncture, India’s approach to adopt a long-term strategy made more sense, including its approach to testing. Although India’s approach in tackling COVID-19 has been quite different from China’s mass quarantines and sweeping lock down’s.
COVID-19 curve is not getting flattened
In the month of May, Lav Agarwal, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, informed that as of now and if work is done by everyone collectively, then the peak situation may never come at all. But what does a relatively flat curve actually mean? Should the people of the country assume that by doing more of the same, we are at the brink of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in India? The government seems to promote that they have flattened the COVID-19 curve. But then what does “relatively flat” mean? In the context of COVID-19, some countries have actually flattened their COVID-19 curves by strict norms and deliberate timely actions. Germany, which imposed restrictions on 23 March, saw an average daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases below 1.5 percent. Also in South Korea and Australia, the average daily growth rate observed is way below 0.5 percent. India’s 7.2 percent daily growth rate is nowhere close to what these countries have already achieved. But considering all the facts in mind, one could argue that India is bending the curve.
The Modi government had previously claimed that without the lockdown and relevant containment measures, India would have recorded about 8.2 lakh cases by 15 April. This statement was made by the government to support its prolonged lockdown decision. But this is where we should start to l worry about the competence of our government. To get to 8.2 lakh cases on 15 April from 24 March (492 cases), the average daily growth rate had to be almost 40 percent. But no nation by far has recorded that type of growth. Russia in this was the highest at 19 percent.
But the government and bureaucrats, in a way to support their political bosses did not account for what we call as the “base effect”.As the number of cases increases, it becomes really hard to maintain high growth rates. For example, Going from 10 to 20 cases is easier than from 10,000 to 20,000. Basically, the Modi government was making a fake argument to support its extended lockdown vision.
A wasted lockdown
India is still testing at extremely low rates. According to a study, India ranked 57th out of 67 countries in terms of testing per 1,000 people. And by looking at the trends across the world we can infer that increased testing rates are leading to confirmation of more COVID-19 cases. Moreover, the lockdowns are not identical around the world. The recent relations allowed by the government are contributing largely to the COVID-19 cases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had justified the imposition of the lockdown in the country by saying that it was a necessary step “to break the chain of infection”. But it didn’t happen that way. The government should have utilized this valuable time to develop strategies for the inevitable exit from a complete lockdown. Considering that India’s circumstances differ greatly from those of wealthier nations. After letting the citizens of the country having paid dearly for six weeks of lockdown, is India truly in a significantly better position now than it was on 24th March? Owing to the current scenario the answer is clearly No.
The government recently declared that India is doing pretty well in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and will surely win this war asserting that though the country adopted the same principles that China did to prevent COVID-19 spread, its experience was pretty different as the diseases came through travel and affected multiple places.
But we see a different scenario prevailing in the country. The government seems to be busy gearing up for elections in Bihar. Despite Bihar having the lowest testing rate, 7-9 percent positive case rate, and more than 6,000 cases, elections are now the favorite topic in Bihar instead of coronavirus. And Ironically, Nitish Kumar hasn’t stepped out of his home due to COVID-19 fear, still thinks that there is no harm in stepping out and vote,” he recently tweeted.