In-depth analysis

Is India ready to fight COVID-19?

TPE Correspondent
New Delhi, 24 March

Several States in the country are have been lockdown in the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic, But the Government is facing criticism over lack of coronavirus tests. On Tuesday Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the state health department is left with only 40 kits to test for COVID-19, at a time when the number of cases has risen to seven and the state has registered its first coronavirus – related death. Banerjee raised this issue during the chief minster’s video conference with the prime minister on 20 March, for now, ICMR has sanctioned 90 more kits to state.

While the government is not ready with basic required Medical equipment or test kit, a major group of infected people will remain untested, It took India forty days to reach the first 50 cases, five more days to reach 100 cases, three more days to reach 150 cases and then just two more days to reach 200 cases and now the country has 480 plus cases. If we look around the globe, In United States COVID-19 positive cases are now doubling every two days. Whereas when Italy discovered its first case for 20 days it had less than 10 cases but in a span of a week Italy’s case count got multiplied a hundredfold. But Italy has a great healthcare system and they are rapidly increasing the number of tests.

In India, many people with symptoms indicative of a possible COVID-19 infection, have been turned away from the hospital as they seek tests, and that is causing increasing fear in the world’s second-most populous country. India has some of the most densely populated cities in the world, Experts believe the low testing rate may be hiding thousands of more patients from the data.

In the United States, a Professor Ramanan

Laxminarayan, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at Princeton University, told CBS News channel that the actual number of positive COVID-19 patients in India could be in “tens of thousands.” He said “The number of tests being done in India right now is grossly inadequate, also because the criteria are narrow, India should conduct 10000 to 20000 test per day, it should have the capacity to conduct 100,00 test per day” On Tuesday a report by Bloomberg shared the same view, multiple experts with similar concern that India could be the next global hotspot in the pandemic.

With a ratio of just 0.5 beds per 1000 people, India’s existing healthcare infrastructure will be swamped in the coming months. Almost 70,000 ICU beds are sharply lacking, The number of critical care beds and ventilator in India is not officially known,
Richer countries have struggled, with Italian doctor having to make the impossible decision of choosing who gets a ventilator and who does not, and the army being called in to produce medical supplies, The United States is heading there. There are about roughly 4,000 ventilators in India, yet apart from assuring that there is sufficient medical equipment the Modi government has been silenced over the detail of critical care. There is no clear sign yet that the Modi government will be able to help the hospitals and make up for their lack of medical equipment and infrastructure, but the bigger question is, will it possible to do all of this at this late stage?

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