The easing of lockdown measures is being contemplated – despite cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory disease coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) now rising to over 70,000.
Just one week ago Health Issues India reported cases rising above 46,000. Cases have nearly doubled in this time period, rising to exceed 70,000. This number continues to rise at an alarming pace — a situation that could leave India’s public health system vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cases.
India reported 3,604 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on May 11th, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A marginal slowing of the increase in cases took place over the weekend. However, figures have again picked up with Monday, May 10th holding the current record for daily increase in cases, with 4,353 cases recorded.
The coronavirus curve was described last week by the Union Health Ministry of Health as relatively flat, claiming in its daily briefings that a peak in cases “may never come” if work is done collectively. “During lockdown and containment activities, we have been able to control cases relatively,” said Health Ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal.
Yet since that statement was made, India is seeing a trend of consistently increasing daily case numbers mimicking the disease onset witnessed in many European nations as well as in the United States. If these trends are recreated in India, it is likely that cases will continue to rise considerably, before reaching a plateau.
At this point, some countries, such as Germany and Italy, that have held in place strict quarantine measures, have seen their new daily cases of coronavirus fall over time. Other countries, such as the US and the UK have seen the plateau extended, with a high number of new daily cases consistently for an elongated period.
On Monday, May 11th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi — following pressure from businesses, citizens, and opposition parties — told the heads of states in a video call that the government would look at a “gradual withdrawal” of the lockdown. At the time of writing, the lockdown is in force until May 17th.
“We have a twofold challenge – to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually,” Modi said. “Even as we look at the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, we should constantly remember that till we…find a vaccine or a solution, the biggest weapon with us to…fight the virus is social distancing.”
Ending the quarantine measures now runs the risk of allowing an already burgeoning disease to run rampant throughout the population. While the kickstarting of the economy is an important factor to consider given that livelihoods have been left in ruins, it cannot be done at the expense of thousands of lives.