With the novel coronavirus outbreak claiming seven lives in the country and infecting more than 350 people to date, the numbers are only going to increase and an “explosion” of cases could be expected by the end of this week, said Dr. Arvind Kumar from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.
In an interview with the NDTV on Saturday (March 21), Dr. Kumar said, “Private labs being involved in COVID-19 testing is good but as I’ve been saying since day 1 the numbers being shown are just the tip of the ice berg.”
Pointing out at the actual number of cases being far more than the reported sum, he said, “Real numbers are way higher and the infection is simmering in the community which means they’re just waiting to explode any day.”
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the health ministry, India is still in stage 2 of the spread of the coronavirus via local transmission. However, Dr. Kumar opined that the country had moved to stage 3 weeks ago and “it won’t be long before the bomb explodes in front of our eyes.”
Elaborating on the “explosion” he is expecting, Dr. Kumar said that if the rise in number of reported confirmed cases is traced down from the first case to date, the numbers were growing at a slower rate in the initial phase but considering the country recording the highest jump in 24 hours of more than 70 positive cases the “numbers are not just increasing but increase in numbers of numbers is also increasing.”
The sudden spike in reported active cases within the past week, according to Dr. Kumar is reflective of the large volume of cases in the society, waiting to blow up latest by next weekend.
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He also warned the country to brace itself and be prepared to face a Spain, Italy, or China-like situation as it, for India, is “just a few days away.”
“India will witness a large number of cases, majority of them being mild, but given our population density and other ailments such as malnutrition, diabetes, and blood pressure, and also facing the reality of our poor health infrastructure, large number of deaths is not too far away for the country,” he added.
Interestingly, even as the death toll in India rose to six on Sunday (March 22), the doctor opined that the “writing is there on the walls, if we want to close our eyes, the choice is ours.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a ‘Janata curfew’ on Sunday from 7 AM to 9PM due to which even the most crowded places in various cities wore a deserted look.
Dr. Naresh Trehan, Chairman, Medanta – The Medicity, in an interview on Saturday told ANI that due to India’s population density and “a lot of people not conscious of their hygiene and cleanliness, we are at a higher danger than other countries. You can liken us to China.”
Pointing out the flaws and why the COVID-19 pandemic is a bigger challenge for India than other countries, he said, “People in India are not mentally disciplined and that’s a big problem. We also have limited resources, so we should use them judiciously.”
About the prime minister’s Sunday lockdown event, Dr. Trehan said, “The lockdown should be implemented for a week or 10 days, since it may stop the spreading of coronavirus and its impact may be reduced at the end.”
He said a prolonged ‘Janata curfew’ would be helpful since “we’re still not prepared for large number of people getting infected and this is the time to get our act together – financially as well as country-wise.”
Appreciating the government for the efforts its taking to curb the spread of COVID-19, he said, “The Centre is doing good and plans are on but not at an electric speed. So delayed spread will help in planning and equipping us better as the financial burden of this is going to be devastating for everybody.”
In India, several states including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha announced near total or complete lockdown till March 31 with a view to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus via community transmission.
A similar statement was given by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who announced that he may announce a total national capital lockdown, if that’s “needed to save lives,” further restricting the assembly of more than five people in one place to practice social distancing.