[Editorial Analysis] Peaking: On India’s coronavirus tally

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Novel coronavirus case
Mains level: Scenario of novel coronavirus case in India

Context:

• In 106 days since the first laboratory-confirmed novel coronavirus case was reported on January 30, India surpassed China’s tally of 84,038.

• As on May 15, India had over 85,500 cases and the death toll stood at 2,752, as against 4,633 in China.

The rising number of cases:

• There are only 10 other countries that have more cases than India.

• The toll in the U.S. alone went past the total number of cases in China, while the total caseload crossed 1.4 million.

• On March 18, when China reported zero fresh cases, India had just 162 cases and three deaths.

• Despite the country being under lockdown since almost end-March, the number of fresh cases and deaths reported each day has continued to rise steadily — on average, over 3,600 cases have been reported daily since May 8.

• This is of serious concern as contrary to the advice of WHO, India has not fully utilized the precious lockdown period to increase manifold the number of tests carried out daily while simultaneously tracing, isolating, and treating COVID-19 patients.

Doubling of the cases:

• That even during the lockdown India has witnessed the shortest time, of 13 days, for cases to double compared with 14 other countries that have the most cases reported is testimony to the widespread of the virus.

• A reason for this could be that cases in other countries, barring Russia and Brazil, have already peaked or are about to.

• Unfortunately, even as the number of cases has crossed 94,700, India is yet to begin investigating community transmission despite the strongly suggestive findings of sentinel surveillance among those hospitalized for severe acute respiratory infections.

• Given the high rate of asymptomatic transmission, the high viral resurgence is inevitable when the lockdown is lifted.

States reporting a low number of cases:

• With over 11,200 cases, Tamil Nadu has the second-highest number of cases next to Maharashtra (over 33,000). But with over 4,000 tests per million, TN is testing nearly two times more than Maharashtra.

• It is not the States that report more cases that are a cause for concern, but those that have reported fewer.

• Active case finding and testing of most people with a travel history early during the lockdown could be one reason why Karnataka has reported fewer cases.

• Similarly, surveillance and case finding of those with a travel history early on have been good in Andhra Pradesh and could be a reason why it has reported fewer than 2,400 cases so far.

Way ahead:

• Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal have reported high case positivity.

• This could either be due to good surveillance, which is unlikely, or wider spread of the virus in the community, at least in specific regions.

• If the latter be the case, India can expect huge numbers to be reported in the coming weeks. No State, including Kerala, can thus be complacent.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the ‘Mission Sagar’, consider the following statements:
1. The deployment is in consonance with the Prime Ministers’ vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region ‘SAGAR’.
2. This is the first time that a single assistance mission is covering all island countries of the western Indian Ocean in one go except Sri Lanka.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Despite the extended lockdown, the steady rise in cases is a cause for worry. Comment.

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