Policymakers worried by rise in cases after the lockdown seemed to have curbed the spread
States such as Kerala cut case load during the lockdown but saw second wave post easing
NEW DELHI :
It is becoming increasingly difficult to make predictions about covid-19 as the number of cases continues to rise across regions, the government and scientists said as India entered Unlock 2.0 on Wednesday.
The pandemic curve has been contained to some extent and is beginning to flatten following the 70-day stringent lockdown imposed on 25 March, but policymakers are wary of the subsequent rise in cases.
States such as Kerala were successful in bringing down the case count during the lockdown, but the relaxation in restrictions led to a second wave.
The situation is such that any prediction of the covid-19 pandemic may be misleading, public health experts said.
“The infection was imported and located in urban areas with a concentration in metros in the first two months, but has now moved to peripheral districts and small cities. This movement has given an impression that cases are decreasing in some areas, while in others there is a surge in cases. However, this is about the movement of infections and population," said Dr Jugal Kishore, professor and head, department of community medicine, Safdarjung Hospital.
Delhi has the highest case load among cities with more than 87,000 cases. “We have increased testing in Delhi. Initially, on testing 100 people, around 31 were found to be positive and today only 13 out of 100 people were found to be positive. These things show that the situation is under control and is not as terrible as it was one month back. However, we have to be cautious," said chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Over the past week, Delhi has been reporting more than 2,000 cases daily. “Delhi’s fixed population is showing less cases for 3-4 days, but new cases will continue because a large number of the Delhi population is floating," said Kishore.
Karnataka has also seen a sharp rise in covid-19 cases since it opened its borders. However, the number of local infections has also risen in the past two weeks, indicating the possibility of community spread. The number of cases in Bengaluru has risen sharply, fuelling fears of yet another lockdown in the state’s capital.
Karnataka has already breached the 15,000 covid-19 cases mark ahead of projections and is now estimated to have at least 25,000 cases by mid-August. The state government has asked doctors to be mentally prepared to continue the fight for another six months.
Health experts said the number of cases will increase because of the onset of the monsoon, which is also a season for influenza. “There will be a greater number of covid-19 cases as the influenza season will come. There will be a double problem. The cases that we are seeing now are reservoirs of the lockdown. Soon after the movement started, the cases also started increasing. We will see a further increase. The disease continues to be unpredictable," said Lalit Kant, a scientist and former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR.
India’s recovery rate improved to 59.43%. “During the last 24 hours, 13,157 covid-19 patients have been cured, taking the cumulative figure to 357,612. Presently, there are 226,555 active cases and all are under medical supervision," the Union health ministry said. As on Wednesday, India recorded 601,952 covid-19 cases, with 17,785 deaths.
Meanwhile, the testing lab network has been strengthened. With 764 labs in the government sector and 292 private labs, there are as many as 1,056 labs in the country. There has also been steady rise in the samples tested every day. During the past 24 hours, 2,17,931 samples have been tested. The cumulative number of samples tested as on date is 88,26,585, said the health ministry.
Sharan Poovanna and Pretika Khanna contributed to this story.