India is now one of those countries which are worse affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In mere 2 months, the situation in the country has become very serious, in the past few days, the cases of coronavirus have surged to 174,020 even after imposing the lockdown for more than two months and extending it four times. Every strategy and technique of the government has failed in controlling the outbreak. Now it’s high time for the government to think something beyond the lockdown because clearly lockdown is doing nothing great rather the cases of the virus are increasing day by day and the economy because of the lockdown has already suffered a lot.
Where the government actually lacked?
There are countries like Srilanka who are doing really well in terms of controlling the spread of the virus, it has been observed there that the government took the situation very seriously in the beginning and they imposed the lockdown after a Chinese tourist from Wuhan who travelled to the country in late January was traced with the coronavirus infection. It has been also observed that countries like Bangladesh and Srilanka are doing better because the government in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh acted swiftly to contain the spread of the contagion. The government of Sri Lanka issued a preliminary social distancing advisory on January 20, a week before the first COVID-19 case of a Chinese tourist in Sri Lanka was confirmed and the government there instructed the retailers to deliver the essential goods to the homes of the people to avoid the violation of social distancing norms.
Unlike India which implemented the lockdown 14 days after recording the 500 plus cases and the government imposed the lockdown on a very short notice which created a panic among the citizens who ignored all principles of social distancing and rushed to crowded stores to stock up essentials. This is where the government of India lacked the first time. The very first case of the coronavirus was recorded in the late January and the government ignored the severity of the situation in the beginning even after knowing that what has happened in the country like Italy where the government did the same mistake, the country ignored the situation and didn’t take it seriously as they were overconfident about having the second-best medical facilities. The Indian government rather than being conscious and careful about the situation, it implemented the lockdown on a very short notice, without any preparations that too after recording the cases above 500 which generated congestion at various places which almost tripled the coronavirus cases and the very first lockdown failed. And maybe the relatively higher number of cases recorded in India is the result of the government losing two precious weeks before implementing any serious physical distancing measures.
There is a need in India to test more:
An important component of any strategy to deal with the pandemic is the use of testing to detect the virus and isolate the infected population. Testing has generally been low in India as compared to the other countries. It has been recently suggested by the experts that India needs to ramp up the number of tests done across the country to trace COVID-19 infection cases if it wants to contain the pandemic in time. India is relatively testing slowly than the others as the Countries with relatively high testing rates had to impose fewer lockdown restrictions, and have been able to open up more quickly than India.
When the nationwide lockdown was imposed on 25 March, India was conducting 539 tests per million people and ranked 52nd among countries in terms of the testing rates. Since then, test numbers have risen 47-fold even as case numbers have risen more than a hundred times, with India now conducting 758 tests per million, making it the 24th ranked country in terms of tests per million as of now. The testing numbers suggest that India is not testing enough. Despite a ramp-up in testing, it still tests fewer people than many other affected countries.
Less testing might have resulted in under-reporting of the cases:
Under-reporting the cases of the coronavirus infection is might possible as clearly, the country is not testing enough. Many claims have been made by MOHFW, India, where they take into account the large population of India to show a low number of cases per million people or per lakh people. To fully understand this data, we also need to take into account the testing rates of countries. If a country is testing less, it’s much obvious that the number of cases per million people will appear less.
India also has a history of data fudging, India has been fudging data for tuberculosis disease for a very long time. WHO has given constant reminders to our country for giving proper data so that the higher authorities can understand the cause and effect relationship between tuberculosis. According to reports India under-reported TB for 15 years. Now if we look at today’s situation, it is a hard fact that even after imposing the lockdown for more than two months the curve of the coronavirus graph has not bent, the pandemic is spreading rapidly as 7,466 new cases are being reported every day. There have been various accusations on the government about not reporting the coronavirus cases properly.
India has low cases per million people that is 117 cases per million people, compared to the US (5197 cases per million people) or Italy (3825 cases per million people). However, India is also testing way less than any of these countries. The US is testing 19 times, and Italy is testing 25 times more than India. India is positioned way below at 71 of 84 countries who are providing testing data in the number of tests per million people. It is testing just 2486 samples per million people, this can also well be a reason for why we have a low rate or cases per million.
What India should learn from other countries?
It is very clear that the situation in India is getting serious day by day and we are moving towards a doomsday. It has been observed that there are two strategies that can be used by the countries to contain the spread of the virus in time, one is social distancing activities like lockdown to avoid the transmission among people, and the other is testing to isolate the infected people from the healthy ones. And now it seems like India is failing in implementing both the strategies, the nationwide lockdown has proved to be a big fail as the number of cases in India has been increasing constantly. Further talking about the testing capacity of the country, Also now many states of India are running out of hospital beds and staff. The epidemic curve of COVID-19 cases in India doesn’t seem to be flattening while other countries like Russia, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Canada, South Korea, and Belgium have almost bent the curve. If we look at South Korea, for example. South Korea has completely bent the curve, by reducing the number of active cases to just 735, increasing the doubling time to 85 days, and reducing the fatality rate to 2. This they have achieved by higher testing 16,823 tests per million people almost seven times more than India.
Thus if the government of India would have focused on the healthcare and infrastructure of the country rather than building statues, buying aircraft, and buying MLAs then may be the situations would have been very different and the country would have better equipments and facilities to test and contain the virus.