With over 70k cases, India’s tally crosses 3 million mark

India became the third country in the world, after the US and Brazil, to report more than three million Covid-19 cases — the third million coming in a little over two weeks.
A man wearing a face masks walks past an idol of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha during reimposed weekend lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Jammu, India.(AP)
A man wearing a face masks walks past an idol of elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha during reimposed weekend lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Jammu, India.(AP)
Updated on Aug 23, 2020 12:35 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRhythma Kaul

The number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in India crossed the 3 million mark on Saturday, with the country reporting 70,182 fresh infections as the pathogen finds news hot spots across the country amid efforts by the Centre to stop the situation from spiralling out of control.

India became the third country in the world, after the US and Brazil, to report more than three million Covid-19 cases — the third million coming in a little over two weeks. With 914 new deaths on Saturday, the total number of patients who succumbed to Covid-19 in India reached 56,837. The total number of Covid-19 cases stood at 3,041,463

India’s case fatality rate, which is the total number of deaths among the laboratory-confirmed cases, however, has been steadily declining to become one of the lowest in the world.

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Experts maintain the focus of the battle against the infectious disease needs to shift to the hinterland and the peninsula, both high population density regions with, in the case of the former, significant rural populations and relatively inadequate health care systems.

“As a result of various measures taken by the government, the outbreak situation in India is very much under control. The health care infrastructure is not overwhelmed, the testing capacity is more than enough to meet the demand and even the percentage of Cocvid-19 patients on ventilator is very minuscule,” said a senior official of the Union health ministry, asking not to be named.

Previously, India’s journey to two million cases took 158 days, with at least 90% of these cases coming after the lifting of the nationwide lockdown that was announced at the end of March.

India’s current case positivity rate, which gives the number of cases that return positive out of all the samples that are tested, is about 8%. Many states have positivity rates lower than the national average.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, clinician scientist, formerly with the Translational Health Science And Technology Institute, said: “The numbers we are seeing (in India) are expected given our population and this rate of cases is likely to continue because there are many parts of the country where the epidemic is just starting, though there are some cities where the first peak is over.”

Experts in epidemiology said increased testing had a role to play but also that the number of positive cases were directly linked to the number of tests that were being done. “The number of cases reported ultimately is a function of the number of tests that we do,” said Dr Tarun Bhatnagar, senior epidemiologist, Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Epidemiology.

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Dr Shobha Broor, former head, department of microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, said: “For a country like India to have just about 3 million positive cases in an outbreak of this nature means we have done very well. Aggressive testing clearly has a role to play in keeping the numbers low as detecting and isolating cases early, and successful contact tracing is what is important in effectively controlling outbreaks in the long run.”

However, experts also warn that it is too early to say categorically whether India was on the path to controlling the epidemic. “It is so far so good but we will have to wait and watch how this pandemic pans out in the long run,” said Dr Broor.

Dr Bhatnagar said: “We are doing wonderfully well if we look at from where we started and where we are standing now, but we will be always catching up because of our huge population density. It is not feasible to test everyone and it is not required also; what is required is for people to make Covid-19 appropriate behavioral changes that will eventually change the course of the epidemic.”

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021