India’s Next Phase Of Virus Crisis Likely To Be Localised Outbreaks, Say Experts

The hospitalisation rates have come down in the country especially in Maharashtra and Kerala that together account for three-quarters of India's 168,627 active cases.

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According to experts, the hospitalisation and fatality rates in India is relatively low that suggest the coronavirus pandemic is approaching in the next phase which is manageable largely by the local outbreaks.

Although for a country with 1.35 billion people only a handful of states are reporting a spurt in infections that too with limited health facilities and where the practice of wearing masks and social distancing is falling off, the positive trend if it holds, will be a respite.

Without any national lockdown it could also help India to keep its economy open.

India has reported the highest number of cases in the world at more than 11 million, after the United States. However, a government survey suggests its actual cases may be around 300 million, as the young people showed no symptoms.

The death toll stands at 157,248.

Since a mid-September peak, the cases recorded have fall continuously, before again increasing since early February.

However, eight to ten recent infections have been reported by mostly five states that includes, Maharashtra and Kerala. India’s case count has gone up but the fatality rate has fallen from 0.856% to 0.683% on Monday, since a multi-month is low in cases.

The overall rate for India is 1.4% and 2.2% for the world.

Rajib Dasgupta, an epidemiologist and professor of community health at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said India was witnessing a phase of “multiple epidemics within a country” where the entire population is not equally susceptible.

He said, “In this phase, the emphasis has to be a lot more local, a lot of local capacities will be put to test.”

“The positive thing – what’s being seen in Europe – is that as subsequent surges come, as the knowledge has improved, the management is better, both in terms of public health management as well as clinical care, and actually deaths go down.”

The major aim should be to try and contain the virus within the local clusters instead of mesures like inter-state curbs on travellers, said Dasgupta.

What is ENDEMIC VIRUS?

On Tuesday a government health official Vinod Kumar Paul told a news conference that India was nowhere close to attaining herd immunity through natural infection or vaccination, requiring states to continue their surveillance. India has so far vaccinated more than 12 million people.

However, the health ministry said, 19 of India’s three dozen states and federal territories had not reported any deaths in the past 24 hours.

Subhash Salunke, a former WHO official who advises Maharashtra on its COVID-19 strategy said, “It’s quite possible that we will be now seeing the pandemic transforming into smaller kinds of outbreaks, or endemicity is likely to take place.”

The hospitalisation rates have come down in the country especially in Maharashtra and Kerala that together account for three-quarters of India’s 168,627 active cases.

The number of people hospitalised in Kerala each day due to COVID-19 stood at 830 last week, while daily new cases averaged approx. 3,500.

Maharashtra’s health department told Reuters only 14% of its 77,000 active patients were in oxygen or intensive-care beds. More than 80% of such beds are now unoccupied, compared with a shortage a few months ago.

However, the health authorities must, remain vigilant, especially in the big cities, according to  experts said

“There will likely be another wave – likely will not be as big as the first wave because a lot of people got infected in the first round itself – so I think most metros should be ready for a second wave,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in New Delhi.

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