Spike in COVID-19 cases as India attempts ‘Unlock 2.0’

Spl. Correspondent NEW DELHI, JUN 28 (NPN) | Publish Date: 6/28/2020 1:24:33 PM IST

As North East experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases (10,477 as on June 28) , the premier commercial and transit route of the region-Guwahati city- is on lockdown for two weeks, from June 28 (7 p.m.) to July 12, 2020 (6 p.m.) as there are indications that the spike in COVID cases could be due to community transmission.

However, despite Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma having hinted at such a possibility, yet there has been a disinclination by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to admit it. 

“India is definitely not in community transmission. But we have to continue with effective surveillance & containment strategies,” Prof Balram Bhargava, director general of ICMR had said.

The situation even in Delhi has been a cause of concern for both the state and central governments with a total of 80,188 COVID-19 cases as on June 28, 2020 and the number still rising.

As COVID-19 cases surge across India and vaccines and as other treatment strategies are being devised, the current scenario has thrown many in limbo. For one, there is no immediate cure or prevention plan for coronavirus while on the other, asymptomatic cases are on the rise, and most importantly, affecting everyone differently.

As COVID-19 cases are showing record spikes with each passing day, states are faced with the dilemma of either opening up activities further with the advent of second phase of Unlock beginning July 1 or of resorting to varying degrees of lockdown in an attempt to arrest the tide of cases. Some states like West Bengal and Jharkhand have decided to extend the lockdown till July 31, while others like Tamil Nadu have decided to selectively lockdown a few worst-affected districts.

With the Centre keen on Unlock-1 of the national lockdown that ends on June 30, 2020 and likely to advise states on Unlock-2, the rising numbers has led many virologists including the Indian Council of Medical Research to conclude that by September the total COVID-19 cases in India could be around 20 lakh.

Noted scientist Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy has said that India probably already has tens of millions of COVID-19 infected people.

In a recent interview to a news portal, Laximarayan said the nationwide part of the ICMR’s recent serological survey which suggests that 0.73% of the population has been exposed to the virus corroborated this. 

Laxminarayan said majority of these will be asymptomatic people although a few might have mild infections which they have not bothered about.

He also said the virus was already on community transmission in India, which means that people are getting infected from within the community without knowing from whom or how. 

In other words, the source of the infection cannot be traced to someone who has come from abroad or been in touch with such a person. 

He further held the view that the return of millions of migrants to villages in Bengal, UP, Bihar, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, etc. will lead to a surge of infections in these rural hinterlands. Laxminarayan also said India would see several regional peaks as individual states hit their peak at different times. 

With Coronavirus going out of control, the unlock phases of the government appears to indicate that it may seek to contain the virus through herd immunity.

Herd immunity happens when a large percentile of people across a community become naturally immune to a disease’s spread and thereby, prevent the transmission from further happening. It can happen in two ways- either by injection of a vaccine which negates the working of the virus, or when a person actually gets infected.


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