The government yesterday claimed initial success in its fight against the coronavirus epidemic, saying it would have been hit with 820,000 cases by next week had it not imposed a nationwide lockdown.
The number of people infected with the virus stood at 5,865 including 169 dead, far smaller than other countries such as the US, Italy and Spain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to order 1.3bn Indians indoors for three weeks in the world’s biggest lockdown has helped slow the infection rate, foreign ministry additional secretary Vikas Swarup said, even though it has exacted a heavy toll on the economy and on the hundreds of millions of poor.
By the middle of April, the caseload would have touched 820,000, he said, citing an internal assessment by the government’s Indian Council of Medical Research, far more than the country’s underfunded public health system could handle.
“We would have gone the Italian way, had we not done the lockdown,” Swarup told reporters.
The country, he said began screening people coming from overseas a fortnight before the first positive case surfaced on January 30 while Italy started 25 days after its first case.
Swarup said the outbreak was concentrated in about 75 of the country’s more than 600 districts, which would help the government manage the crisis better.
Modi is due to take a decision in the next two days over whether to extend the lockdown that is due to end on Tuesday.
Millions of people have lost their jobs, largely those who work on daily wages and have fled to their homes in the countryside.
Several states have called for an extension saying they would not be able to deal with a surge of cases.
Odisha yesterday announced it would remain shut until the end of April, regardless of the federal government’s decision. “The state cabinet which met yesterday decided that saving the lives of our people is the top most priority at this juncture. Accordingly we have decided to extend the lockdown till April 30,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.
The federal government also said it had formally approved an allocation of $1.97bn as part of its Covid-19 emergency response and health system preparedness package.
“This will allow for rapidly ramping up the number of corona testing facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE), isolation beds, ICU beds, ventilators and other essential equipment,” a government statement quoted Modi as saying.
According to the government, the country has about one doctor per 1,500 citizens.
The World Health Organisation recommends one doctor per 1,000.
In rural areas, where two-thirds of Indians live and rely almost solely on government hospitals, the ratio is one doctor to more than 10,000 people.
India also has 2.3 intensive care beds per 100,000 people. By contrast, China has 3.6 and the US has nearly 35 per 100,000 people.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Coronavirus claims Bollywood composer Wajid Khan at 42
India 'unlocks' as it emerges as nation seventh worst hit by Covid-19
Experts voice concern over easing Covid lockdown
Ambulance startup joins Covid battle in Mumbai
India's Modi urges citizens to stay alert to virus as lockdown eases
No danger to Yediyurappa govt, says top BJP leader
India posts record jump in coronavirus cases
Govt announces major easing of lockdown
India extends lockdown in high-risk zones, to allows partial reopening elsewhere