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Thursday, February 25, 2021

What began with a student from Wuhan: glimmer at end of one-year Covid tunnel

A year later, as the epidemic continues to rage in several American and European countries, India seems to be on an irreversible path towards exit.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Pune |
Updated: January 30, 2021 7:11:16 pm
One year of covid, India covid, covid-19, india covid cases, india coronavirus pandemic, covid pandemic india, india coronavirus lockdown, india covid deaths, wuhan, India news, indian express newsActive cases have come down from a high of over 10 lakh to just about 1.7 lakh now. Fewer than 150 deaths are being reported every day from across the country.

By the time India detected its first case of novel coronavirus infection a year ago on January 30, 2020, the epidemic had spread to about 20 countries, and more than 170 people had already died due to the disease.

A 20-year-old from Thrissur, who was studying medicine in Wuhan, China, and had returned home a week earlier, was the first person in India to test positive. In the next four days, two more Kerala residents studying in China were found positive.

With no new cases emerging for almost a full month thereafter, there was hope that India might escape the pandemic with only minor bruises, in the same way that it had escaped the outbreaks of the SARS, Zika, or Nipah viruses earlier.

One year of covid, India covid, covid-19, india covid cases, india coronavirus pandemic, covid pandemic india, india coronavirus lockdown, india covid deaths, wuhan, India news, indian express news A year of Covid-19 pandemic.

But this pandemic was very different.

The next set of infections, which emerged in the first week of March, spread rapidly. Within three weeks, India had to impose the most restrictive lockdown in the world; some called it the biggest lockdown in history.

Over the next few months, the infection numbers grew sharply and steadily, at one point resulting in the detection of nearly 1 lakh cases every day. India was on the verge of becoming home to the largest number of infected people in the world. More than 1,200 people were dying every day. Millions lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the lockdown.

One year of covid, India covid, covid-19, india covid cases, india coronavirus pandemic, covid pandemic india, india coronavirus lockdown, india covid deaths, wuhan, India news, indian express news A year later, as the epidemic continues to rage in several American and European countries, India seems to be on an irreversible path towards exit.

The massive movement of migrant workers, unexpected and unplanned, added to the tragedy.

But a year later, as the epidemic continues to rage in several American and European countries, India seems to be on an irreversible path towards exit. The number of new cases has been declining steadily for over four months now, the downward progression remaining unaffected by the festival season, elections, or the easing of movement restrictions.

Volunteers make lists of people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar at a shelter in Yamuna Sports complex during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi in early May. Express Photo by PRAVEEN KHANNA

The average number of new detections every day has fallen to between 12,000 and 14,000. If it had not been for Kerala, which is now contributing almost half of all new cases in the country, this number could have been well below 10,000.

Active cases have come down from a high of over 10 lakh to just about 1.7 lakh now. Fewer than 150 deaths are being reported every day from across the country.

Such numbers were previously being reported in May and June last year, when the epidemic was still in the ascendant phase. The threat from new strains of the virus, which are causing havoc in some other countries, has not materialised in India.

Except for Kerala and Maharashtra, no state has reported more than 1,000 new infections in a day for the last 20 days. In fact, some of the worst affected states, including Andhra Pradesh and Delhi, are now reporting fewer than 200 cases a day. Deaths have come down to single digits in all states except Kerala and Maharashtra.

The impact of the vaccination drive, which began two weeks ago, would not be evident for at least two more months, but it would be crucial in ensuring that the current declining trend is not reversed.

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