India Cross 5 Million COVID-19 Cases!


So, the days taken to surge by a million new cases have been reduced to 11 days now: India has crossed 5 million or 50 lakhs or 0.5 Crore total COVID-19 cases early morning today, from 4 million reached on 5th September 2020. The accelerating surge can be ascertained from the fact that to reach the first million India took 168 days, then 21 days to reach 2 million, 16 days to reach 3 million, 12 days to reach 4 million and now 11 days to reach 5 million. The highest daily spike in new cases happened on 11th September when the figure was nearly 98,000, and the grim milestone of 1 lakh or one hundred thousand cases daily has somehow been avoided on that day and later. However, on the twenty-four-hour period ending 15th September the daily spike got reduced to around 83,000, and again the figure increased to over 90 thousand in the last twenty-four-hour period. The highest spike of 1290 deaths have been recorded for the same period with Maharashtra registering its record high of 515 deaths.


Thus, the unpredictability and uncertainty of the Coronavirus behavior trajectory in India has been continuing unabated with the worst affected states being Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and it is still early days in regard to the spikes registered daily in many other states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and others. The government of India, as usual, has emphasized on the increasing recovery rate at over 78% and falling fatality rate at 1.6%, expressing, however, concern at the spiking death rates in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. The government has also mentioned aggressive testing at over a million daily and its aim to reduce the positivity rate to below 5% from above 8% at the moment. It has further said that fatalities per million is still very low here, and that considering the population of India and that many of its states are like separate countries of the world, few bigger than a few countries in Europe, the heavy continuing spike is not very surprising. However, experts have warned that with the increasing stress on India’s meager health facilities, particularly in the rural belt, fatality rate could spike in near future.


The government of the second worst-hit country of the world has created an uproar by declaring in Parliament yesterday that it had no data regarding the deaths of migrant workers and therefore, the issue of compensation did not arise, in reply to questions by the opposition. The economic compensation package announced in May 2020 had nothing in it for the miserable migrant workers except for free supply of food grains. It is common knowledge that thousands of workers walked home in the scorching heat of May with more than 300 of them dying on the highways or in the trains, as per an estimate.


The irony of the issue which possibly started community transmission all across the country has been heightened due to its sheer unaccountability factor and the mismanagement inherent in it. Spokespersons of the ruling party made it worse by trying to put the blame on the states, some of them ruled by the same party, for the migrant labor crisis. It is also common knowledge that almost all of the states in fact paid the central government for the transportation of workers by trains.


While aggressive and widespread testing is indeed required for tracing and containment, the immediate challenge is to make the health infrastructure in rural areas stronger and effective, particularly for the treatment of the critical patients. The situation is precarious in India at the moment, and this puts the onus fully on the public as regards following the new normal behavior strictly. Unlocking is almost complete with the metro trans already running, more passenger trains introduced and schools/colleges likely to open partially later this month. From the ‘livelihood’ issue unlocking cannot possibly be reversed, and for this very issue, people for whom going out of home is required to earn livelihoods should only venture out, and the rest of the population should ideally stay at home, as far as possible. The most sought-after ‘old normal’ is still a distant dream, and people should realize this fact in earnest, considering the upcoming festival season and winter.


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