The COVID-19 pandemic continues to arrest the attention of policymakers, the public, and the global health community with the global case count now numbering well in excess of 700,000.
At the time of writing, there are 735,336 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide with 34,818 people having lost their lives. India saw its case count cross the 1,000 mark over the weekend, with the country now reporting 1,071 confirmed coronavirus cases at the time of writing with 29 deaths. The number of active cases in India stands at 942, with 100 people having recovered from COVID-19 in addition to the 29 deaths.
There are 544,381 active coronavirus cases globally. Of the currently-infected patients, 516,169 are in mild condition – translating to 95 percent of the active caseload. The remaining five percent of patients – translating to 28,212 people – are in serious or critical condition.
The weekend saw India report its highest number of new cases in a single day since the COVID-19 pandemic originated. States and union territories reported 130 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Delhi, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra alone reported 23, twenty, nineteen, and seventeen new COVID-19 cases respectively.
Last week, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown, confining a population of more than 1.3 billion people to their homes. The move has been criticised in some quarters.
Vidya Krishnan, writing in The Atlantic, castigated the “callousness” of the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Krishnan described the lockdown as “a headline-grabbing initiative announced with little warning, but one that will do little to address the myriad problems India faces in dealing with the coronavirus” and one that “is needlessly punishing for the most vulnerable in society” and “does nothing to solve this country’s problems with public health and safety.”
On the other hand, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to India Dr Henk Bekedam has praised India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as “comprehensive and robust. Massive efforts have been made towards prevention and containing the spread, including strengthening surveillance, laboratory capacity, contact tracing and isolation and risk communications. The Prime Minister’s call for social distancing has received widespread community support across the country. It is vital that we come together in solidarity and help in breaking the chain of transmission and flattening the curve.”
Yet WHO officials are keen to emphasise that a lockdown cannot, in isolation, thoroughly clamp down on the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who acts as the WHO’s technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic, noted that “what we don’t want is to get into a situation where you have a lockdown and then you lift it and then you have a resurgence, then you have a lockdown, and you have this endless cycle.”
For his part, Modi has appealed for forgiveness from the vulnerable members of society and the impoverished adversely affected by the abrupt lockdown, such as the “tens of thousands of migrant labourers…forced to walk hundreds of kilometres to their native villages” identified by BBC News. However, he has maintained that “there was no other way to wage war against coronavirus…it is a battle of life and death and we have to win it.”