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India Covid-19 numbers explained, Oct 12: Why govt is worried about a lowering of guard

India coronavirus cases numbers explained: There has been a growing worry that the falling numbers might lead people to believe that the epidemic was nearing its end

Written by Amitabh Sinha , Edited by Explained Desk | Pune | Updated: October 19, 2020 12:31:14 pm
People shop at the New Market in Dharmatala ahead of Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata (Express photo/Shashi Ghosh)

India coronavirus cases numbers explained: While the number of active cases of novel coronavirus continues to fall every day, the biggest concern in the government right now is that gains made over the last one month might be squandered if people get relaxed and do not take adequate precautions during the upcoming festival season.

Less than 67,000 new cases were discovered across the country on Sunday, the lowest non-Monday count since August 23, while more than 71,000 people were declared to have recovered from the disease. It was the ninth consecutive day when recoveries have exceeded the new detection of cases. This has now happened on 19 out of the last 24 days, bringing a welcome reduction in the number of active cases from 10.17 lakh to about 8.62 lakh.

But there has been a growing worry that the falling numbers might lead people to believe that the epidemic was nearing its end.

Top ten states with maximum caseload

“People are seeing the numbers go down. What many don’t realise is that it can start to go up any time, any day. The epidemic has not ended. In fact, the chances of the numbers going up again are very high. It is not a time, therefore, to lower our guards, or be casual or relaxed about it,” Science and Technology secretary Ashutosh Sharma told The Indian Express.

“The festival season is particularly critical. Numbers are reducing, and people might be tempted to celebrate the festivals as they have done every year. But crowding is the most serious source of infection. It is important to learn from previous instances. Look at what is happening in Kerala, for example. The origins of the surge that we see today can probably be traced to Onam… On the other hand, if we are able to tide over the next two months without any big surge, then there is hope,” Sharma said.

A similar appeal was made on Sunday by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan as well. Asking people to continue to practice physical distancing norms and celebrate the festivals in a simple manner, the minister said, “there is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion. If we do this, we may be heading for a big trouble”.

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More than 71.2 lakh people have been found to be infected with the virus in India so far

For this same reason, the government last week launched a ‘Jan Andolan’ (public campaign) to nudge the people towards strict implementation of physical distancing norms, especially during the festival season. In Maharashtra, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asked people to wear their masks properly, covering their nose and mouth, and not as a fashion accessory dangling in their necks. He said the choice for the people was between wearing masks and practicing social distancing, or go back to living under lockdown restrictions even during festivals.

Ashutosh Sharma, the Science and Technology secretary, said because of the slowdown in the epidemic effected by the initial lockdown, India now had adequate capacities to deal with the number of people getting infected. “But even that may be put under stress if the numbers rise all of a sudden.

In the ten states with the maximum caseloads, only four now have growth rates of more than one per cent a day – Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal and Odisha.

After five days, the new case count in Karnataka dropped below 10,000 on Sunday. The state had crossed the seven lakh mark for the total confirmed infections. But it still is the only state, apart from Maharashtra, to have more than one lakh active cases. Kerala, the fastest-growing state in the country right now, with a daily growth rate of more than 3.3 per cent, is also nearing one lakh active cases. In most other states, including Maharashtra, the active cases are on a decline.

In fact, in nine states now, less than 10 per cent of all infections are active. The biggest proportion, unsurprisingly, is in Kerala where 33 per cent of the 1.91 lakh confirmed infections are active cases right now.

More than 71.2 lakh people have been found to be infected with the virus in India so far, out of which about 8.62 lakh, or 12 per cent, are currently active cases. More than 1,09 lakh people have succumbed to the disease till now.

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