As India moves towards relaxing a two-and-half month-long stringent lockdown under a systematic unlock plan by the home ministry, COVID-19 cases have been rising exponentially with a jump of nearly 61,000 cases in the past one week. Medical experts feel that if the situation spirals out of control, the lockdown may have to be reimposed.
India saw 9,851 coronavirus cases and 273 deaths on Friday, pushing the nationwide infection tally to 2,26,770 and the toll from the deadly virus to 6,348, according to the Union health ministry. There has been a record spike in cases for three consecutive days now.
A ‘failed’ lockdown?
Most countries like Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK, lifted their respective lockdowns and curbs when their COVID-19 graphs either flattened or dipped, according to statistics shared on Twitter by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
This is what a failed lockdown looks like. pic.twitter.com/eGXpNL6Zhl
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 5, 2020
India’s COVID-19 curve has been steadily rising throughout the lockdown period with a massive spike in cases in the fourth phase of the lockdown that ended on 31 May and afterwards.
The fourth phase of the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, which began on 18 May, saw 85,974 COVID-19 cases till 8 am on Sunday, according to health ministry data.
The lockdown 1, which was first clamped on 25 March and spanned for 21 days, had registered 10,877 cases, while the second phase of the curbs that began on 15 April and stretched for 19 days till 3 May, saw 31,094 cases.
The third phase of the lockdown that was in effect for 14 days ending on 17 May, recorded 53,636 cases till 8 am of 18 May.
Last Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases stood at 1,65,799, while a week before that on 22 May, there were 1,18,447 cases. Therefore, the spike in the last one week has been of 60,971 cases, while the increase in the number of infections in the week before that was 47,352.
At present, India is the world’s seventh-worst hit nation in terms of overall case count, after the US, Brazil, Russia, the UK, Spain and Italy. When the lockdown started, India was nowhere on the chart and had just a 100 cases.
Experts say re-imposition of lockdown may be necessary
“Whenever lockdown is opened in phases, there will be a spurt in cases. A lockdown basically is used to prepare for the pandemic and halt the spread,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, director and head of the Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Disorders at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.
“Increase in cases will be there when unlocking is done in phases, but what is important is to be mindful that the situation should not spiral out of control, as if it does, then lockdown will have to be re-imposed,” Maurya told PTI.
Noted lung surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar said that it was important to ensure that people continue to have a “self-imposed” lockdown and follow the “four golden principles” — don’t go out unless necessary, always wear a mask, keep distance and keep washing hands.
“Right now the situation does not warrant a re-imposition of the lockdown, but if the situation spirals out of control, then we would have to go back to a lockdown,” he told PTI.
Kumar, who works at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, also asserted that it was too early to allow religious places and malls to open as there are not enough checks to ensure that people will not flout norms.
Dr Vivek Nangia, director and head pulmonology at Fortis Hospital in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area, also said that the rapid rise in cases was worrying.
It is still early to open malls and religious places as if congregations start to happen, then things could spiral out of control, he told PTI.
Despite this, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday issued standard operating procedures to be followed by religious places, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and offices to contain the spread of COVID-19 as India gears up to reopen the economy.
The preparations for reopening the economy, which has been severely hit by the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, from 8 June comes amid mounting cases and toll in the country.
Meanwhile, the health ministry data showed the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country at 1,10,960 while 1,09,461 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said.
Thus, around 48.27 per cent patients have recovered so far.
The first case of COVID-19 in India was reported on 30 January from Kerala after a medical student of Wuhan university, who had returned to India, tested positive for the virus.
Kerala’s daily count touches three digit, UP, Tamil Nadu register spike in cases
For the first time, Kerala’s COVID-19 daily figures touched three digits with the state recording 111 cases, prompting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to term the situation grim.
The surge in positive cases has pushed the infection count to 1,699 while 1.77 lakh people are under observation. On 8 May, Kerala had declared that it had flattened the coronavirus curve after reporting a solitary case and just 16 people under treatment. However, with more people coming to the state from abroad and other states, the cases have seen a sudden spike.
Likewise, Uttar Pradesh recorded its biggest single-day jump of 496 COVID-19 cases, taking the state’s tally to 9,733, while 12 more people succumbed to the disease, a senior official said.
With the fresh deaths, the toll in the state has risen to 257, said principal secretary, health, Amit Mohan Prasad.
There are 3,828 active cases in the state, while 5,648 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, he said.
Maharashtra reported 2,436 new coronavirus patients on Friday, taking the tally of cases in the state to 80,229, a health department statement said. The state reported 139 COVID-19 deaths on Friday , taking the toll to 2,849.
Out of 139 deaths, 93 were reported from Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) including 54 from Mumbai city. Mumbai accounts for 46,080 coronavirus cases and 1,519 deaths. The larger MMR has recorded 60,604 cases and 1,903 deaths.
Tamil Nadu also continued to witness a surge in COVID-19 infections with 1,438 cases and 12 deaths reported on Friday, taking the count to 28,694 and fatalities to 232. Of the fresh positive cases, Chennai alone accounted for 1,116 with the state capital’s aggregate touching a whopping 19,826. Continuing with the trend of a new high everyday, Tamil Nadu on the sixth straight day Friday reported 1,000 plus cases and the newly infected include six people from Qatar, five from Dubai and one from Sri Lanka, a health department bulletin said.
In Gujarat, 510 new coronavirus patients were detected since previous evening, the highest increase in a single day, while 35 patients died, the state health department said.
Gujarat is the fourth worst-affected state in the country as per health ministry figures.
The total number of positive cases in the state has gone up to 19,119, while death toll due to coronavirus rose to 1,190, it said.
Nurses at Delhi’s AIIMS threaten one-day walk out
Meanwhile, according to AP, nurses at a Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) threatened Friday to stage a one-day walkout next week if working conditions don’t improve.
The nurses at AIIMS, a leader in treatment of COVID-19 cases, have been protesting since Monday over long shifts and the need to use congested cubicles to change in and out of personal protective equipment, a possible health risk.
More than 350 medical workers at AIIMS and 150 family members have been infected by the virus since March, the hospital’s medical superintendent Dr DK Sharma told AP. He said about 60 percent have recovered.
“If day after day our health care workers are infected… we are going to face a big issue,” said Fameer CK, general secretary of the union that represents 5,000 nurses at AIIMS.
The union issued the threat to stay home from work next Wednesday after talks with the hospital administration on Thursday ended without agreement, he said.
Hospital authorities refused to comment on the protest.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jun 06, 2020 00:49:22 IST