India is making progress against the COVID-19 pandemic. Active cases continue to fall since the peaks in newly arising cases in mid-September. However, complacency could mean disaster. It must be stressed: the pandemic is far from over.
According to Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data updated on Friday India saw a single-day rise of 70,496 cases over the preceding 24-hour period. This takes the virus caseload to over 6.9 million. At the time of writing, 5,906,069 have so far recovered from the condition, with 106,490 having lost their lives to the condition. The active caseload has now reduced to below 900,000, falling consistently since its peak of more than a million cases on September 16th.
Newfound optimism was found following the announcement of the fall in cases in late September, one that has continued as cases have remained below the initial peaks. “India has recorded very high single day recoveries successively during the last 3 days. More than 90,000 #COVID19 patients have been cured and discharged from home/facility isolation and hospitals every single day,” tweeted the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “Kudos to India’s frontline health workers! The country achieves record high of 1,01,468 #COVID19 RECOVERIES in the last 24 hours.”
This sustained reduction is welcome news, and sign of a turnaround for the situation in India. For the last few months cases had been increasing day-by-day, with some experts claiming that by August the situation would be all but out of control.
Reported previously on Health Issues India, Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, former principal of the Christian Medical College in Vellore and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Institute of Epidemiology, gave a 37-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire. Muliyil said that he “accepted and agreed with Harvard professor Ashish Jha’s forecast, that India could see a total of 200,000 cases a day by August.”
While 100,000 cases were reported a day by mid-September, the more dire predictions made by experts have not come to pass. Forecast made by Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, predicted that India could have 200 million COVID-19 cases by September.
September saw India rise above 3.7 million cases. By the end of the month — India’s worst affected so far — the cases had nearly doubled to more than 6.3 million. The rise in cases, though now subsiding to lower albeit still concerning levels, was rapid. India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the two million mark on August 7th, three million by August 23rd and four million on September 5th. Just eleven days later on September 16th India reached five million, with six million occurring by September 28th.
Though daily cases are now subsiding, the metric only appears encouraging when viewed against September’s cases. Despite 30,000 fewer cases daily than a month prior, India still has the highest number of daily cases in the world by a clear margin, with only the US coming in at second with more than 10,000 fewer cases per day than India.
India is positioned to overtake the US, potentially in the coming weeks or months as the single most affected nation by COVID-19 by total caseload. India does, however, have a significantly lower mortality rate, with less than half the total deaths documented in the US at the time of writing.
For the coming months, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that Delhi needs to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 per day. This takes into account the upcoming winter season-related respiratory problems, a large influx of patients from outside the region and festive gatherings.
This is the situation across much of the globe, with COVID-19 now overlapping the yearly cold and flu season. The overlap presents a key issue in that symptoms are often very similar. Those with a cough due to a cold or the flu could easily be mistaken as having contracted COVID-19. This mistake could wreak havoc on attempts to orchestrate lockdowns or self-isolation attempts as without a specific test for COVID-19 the disease status will be unknown.
India has significantly ramped up testing across the nation. Knowledge gained from this regarding the spread of the condition and where resources must be allocated is vital. It is also of the utmost importance that testing be maintained through the coming months as without concrete evidence of a COVID-19 diagnosis, the mistakes due to the overlap of cold and flu could once again see the economy all but shut down.