Since lockdown 2.0 came to an end on May 3, there has been an element of restlessness to relax the lockdown and there is a clear strategy to open it in a phased manner. However, the scariest part is that the lockdown is being gradually opened not because we are past the Coronavirus pandemic but because we are slowly running out of economic capacity to continue with it.
And this is where a big threat lies- the Coronavirus curve itself is not flattening and looking at this graph one can easily sense an abrupt rise in the number of cases indicating that Coronavirus in India has still not peaked, that is, COVID-19 cases have not reached their highest number after which the number of infections would begin to slow down.
The Recovery Rate is increasing, but the total number of cases is also rising quickly as the doubling rate has worsened to 10.2 days, after touching a record high of 15 days which was hailed as an improvement but the sudden fall to 10.2 days has sent alarm bells ringing for India. If the trend continues, India could have over a lakh coronavirus cases in the next 10 days.
The doubling rate is a function of the number of tests being conducted, and testing has been scaled up too with more than 6,00,000 of the 14,37,788 tests being conducted in the month of May alone.
The day-by-day number of new coronavirus cases reveals a disturbing pattern- high growth in new cases post May 3 when lockdown 2.0 ended.
Also, the number of cases rose abruptly from 40,000 to 50,000 within four days showing that the gains made during the lockdown might be getting compromised.
|3-100 cases||14 days|
|100 – 1000 cases||14 days|
|1000 – 10000 cases||16 days|
|10000 – 50000 cases||23 days|
|40,000 – 50,000 cases||4 days|
The worst-performing states, viz. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi do not reveal an encouraging pattern either.
In Maharashtra with around 18,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the recovery rate is very low at 12 per cent which sends warning bells ringing. Moreover, the number of cases continues to rise since May 3, and it has already added nearly 5,000 cases ever since.
Tamil Nadu is the latest cause of worry for India, as the number of coronavirus cases has more than doubled from 2,058 on April 28 to 5,409 on May 7. The rise of cases in Tamil Nadu is thus faster than the national average. The state is, of course, testing a lot and has already conducted more tests than the worst-hit state of Maharashtra.
The numbers are also rising rapidly in Gujarat, the state with highest number of cases next only to Maharashtra, has already crossed the 7,000 mark in coronavirus cases. In the last three days as many 1,200 new cases have surfaced triggering panic in the coastal state. The city of Ahmedabad is at risk of becoming another Mumbai with nearly 5,000 cases and is currently in a state of complete lockdown.
The National Capital remains the worst hit city after Mumbai and the doctor heading the COVID-19 panel constituted by Chief Minister Kejriwal says that the coronavirus cases will peak in June-July, which means that Delhi needs an extended lockdown but CM Kejriwal feels that Delhi is “ready to lift the lockdown”. He recently declared, “The time has come to re-open Delhi. We will have to be ready to live with coronavirus.”
And then of course West Bengal seems like an enigma. There have been accusations of orchestrating a cover-up against Mamata Banerjee, the Mamata government is also conducting the lowest number of tests for coronavirus among all major states and the fatality rate is unusually high at 10 per cent. Moreover, the pattern of attributing deaths of certain coronavirus patients to “co-morbidites” is seriously downplaying the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in West Bengal.
There have been fresh outbreaks such as that in the Koyambedu wholesale market in Tamil Nadu where a coronavirus cluster of hundreds of people has affected several districts, pushing orange zones back into the red zone.
The authorities were expecting that by the time the lockdown is lifted, we will be past the Coronavirus peak and therefore COVID-19 threat would be averted.
The lockdown did work for sure and the COVID-19 R0 (pronounced ‘R-naught’)- a measure of how infectious the disease is has come down from 1.83 in the period between March 4 and April 6 to 1.27 between April 19 and May 3.
The R0 is barometer that describes how many people a Coronavirus infected person is likely to infect, and an epidemic ends when it goes below 1. Therefore, the Pandemic didn’t peak by May 3 even though it was expected to and numbers are still going to rise with the AIIMS Director stating that the coronavirus peak will arrive between late June and early July. However, the lockdown is getting diluted due to economic hardships which makes the situation all the more frightening.