Growth of COVID-19 Cases in India Linear, Not Exponential: Govt

What has India achieved in the 30 days of lockdown?

3 min read
What has India achieved in the 30 days of lockdown?

"In these 30 days, we have remained more or less stable,” CK Mishra, Environment Secretary and Chairman, Empowered Group-2 for COVID-19, said during the health ministry press briefing on Thursday, 23 April.

“Today is an important day. The country has completed a month of the lockdown.” He went on to discuss all that India has managed to achieve in the 30 days in terms of testing, hospital preparedness and minimising spread. Even though testing increased, the number of positive cases also grew.

“On 23 March we had done 14,915 tests across the country and on 22 April we have done more than 5 lakh tests. If a rough calculation is done it is about 33 times in 30 days. But we are conscious of the fact that this is not enough and we have to continuously ramp up testing in the country.”
CK Mishra

Our progress can be marked in three areas:

  1. We have been able to cut transmission, minimise spread and increase the doubling days of the rate of the infection.
  2. We have consistently ramped up testing.
  3. We have utilised this time to prepare ourselves for the future in case the virus spreads further.

A Comparison With Other Countries

India’s rate of positive cases has remained the same after a month: at 4-4.5 percent of the total tests, Mishra said.

“The growth of COVID-19 cases has been more or less linear, not exponential; this indicates that the strategies we adopted have succeeded in containing the infection to a particular level. Post imposition of lockdown, while the number of new positive cases has increased by 16 times, testing increased by 24 times.”

At half a million tests conducted, where India stands little above a total of 20,000 cases, here is where other countries stood:

  • The US reached had conducted 5 lac tests on 26 March, and it reported 80,000 positive cases
  • Italy reached the stage on 31 March, where 1,00,000 people tested positive
  • UK reached the stage on 20 April, with 1,20,000 positives.
  • For Turkey, the number was 80,000 positives against 5 lac tests.

“This universal comparison shows we seem to be doing well with our intensely focused strategy”, CK Mishra said.

The official kept reiterating, however, that this may not be enough, and the efforts will continue to minimise spread and save as many lives as possible. “This is an evolving strategy, which will change as the challenge expands.”

Hospital Preparedness Increased

This period has been gainfully utilised to review, assess and ramp up the hospital capacities in the states, with more focus on the districts.

The first goal is to try and minimise the number of patients who have to come to the hospitals. This can be done by following social distancing and taking special care for the elderly and more vulnerable population with comorbidities.

For those who do come to the hospital, there should be enough resources to care for them, treat them and send them home safely. Currently, our hospitals are not overwhelmed, but our goal is to prepare them in case of a further spread, Mishra said.

“Our basic principle is test, cure and ensure low mortality.”
CK Mishra

He provided some interesting insight into the level of preparedness: In the last one month, the number of dedicated hospitals increased by 3.5 times, and the number of isolation beds by 3.6 times. “We have used these 30 days to prepare and make sure that in the event we need to cater to more people, we should be ready.”

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria spoke about the consequences of stigmatising patients. “Majority of people are recovering and coming out. They are symbols of hope, yet we have stigmatised them to a large extent which has created problem and panic. This is also increasing mortality and morbidity. People who have COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms are not coming to the hospital, or are coming very late, which is leading to higher mortality. Many can be saved by just one treatment, by giving them oxygen. Our strategy of having more and more oxygen beds is based on this.”

Meanwhile, the health ministry representative, Lav Agarwal, informed that India’s recovery rate is now at 19.89 percent, with 388 people being cured yesterday. There are now 78 districts in 23 States/UTs that have not reported any fresh cases during the last 14 days.

(With inputs from PTI)

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