10,000 COVID-19 cases in India: How are we faring in the war against coronavirus?
The highest number of cases are seen in Mumbai followed by the national capital Delhi. About 339 people have died and 1036 people have recovered from it.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in India crossed the 10,000 mark today. The highest number of cases are seen in Mumbai so far — at 2334 — followed by the national capital Delhi - at 1510. Tamil Nadu also has more than 1100 cases already. About 339 people have died from the disease in the country and 1036 people have already recovered from it.
A 21-day lockdown was announced on March 24, after the huge support for the one-day Janta curfew, a step that the World Health Organisation has called timely, comprehensive and robust. The WHO had also raised concerns about the possibility of the spread of COVID-19 in India, mentioning how it is the second-most populous country in the world and if the disease spreads here, the picture may be worse than China, Europe and USA.
Today, the PM addressed the nation at 10 am and announced that the lockdown will be extended until May 3. This comes after the PM’s meeting with the chief ministers, where most states reportedly voted for the extension of the lockdown. Odisha had already extended the lockdown till April 30, shortly followed by other states like Punjab and Maharashtra.
While the country’s graph is reportedly tapered a bit in the last week (after suddenly going up in the previous week), the decision to extend the lockdown will help keep the country from entering stage 3 or the community transmission stage.
A number of hotspots in the badly-affected areas are already sealed to contain the transmission of the disease and keep it from spreading to the so-far unaffected areas. The country is also focussing on increasing testing, contact tracing and isolating the confirmed patients.
What the centre has done
To begin with, India’s strategy to deal with the disease had been about identifying and treating the severe cases as the healthcare system here is reportedly not as good as South Korea to do robust testing. Even before the lockdown was put into place, mass gatherings were discouraged.
Travel advisories for anyone coming from the countries hit by the pandemic were released. As per the advisory, all such people had to quarantine themselves for at least 14 days after entering the country. All of these travellers were also to be screened at the airport for possible signs of the disease, especially fever.
The government had also decided to spread awareness in the general population about the disease and to identify and prepare quarantine facilities and train healthcare professionals to deal with the disease.
And finally, to make sure that all the advisories released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) were enforceable by law, all the states were asked to invoke the Section 2 of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.
The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 is a colonial law that was earlier used to control the bubonic plague. It gives power to the states to take any action needed to prevent the spread of an infectious disease and anyone who doesn’t abide by the new orders can be punishable under the Indian penal code.
Soon after, Section 69 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 was invoked - it included the constitution of a disaster management team. The disease was later declared a notified disaster and relief funds were made available under the disaster management act for helping state governments deal with the pandemic.
The MoHFW and the National Center for Disease Control, India are constantly updating and releasing information, SOPs (standard operating protocols) and guidelines for dealing with various aspects of the disease. This includes prevention measures, information about the disease, clinical guidelines to manage the disease, more travel advisories and dead body management for COVID-19.
What the states are doing
Various states in India are dealing with COVID-19 in their own way. Based on the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, various states invoked their own laws, since the former was being called incomplete and outdated by some experts. Some of them included Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Most of the laws included points like self-reporting in case someone has a travel history to the affected areas - the ministry of health and family welfare has a self-reporting form on their page. Other points of note were advisories to avoid public gatherings and to avoid giving out information unless it is proven to be a fact, isolating and screening people who show signs of the disease, keeping separate corners for screening COVD- 19 suspected cases in hospitals, etc.
So far, Kerala's efforts have been applauded for controlling the infection. The state has reportedly done extensive testing and has recently begun to use the rapid testing kits produced in MyLabs to test asymptomatic cases too. The testing kits can give results within 2 hours. Also, Kerala has set up walk-in testing booths for COVID-19 - like South Korea, which can do about 40 to 50 tests in an hour.
As per media reports, Kerala had put forward a self-isolation advisory in February, way before it was applied to the whole country. This may also be since Kerala saw the first three cases almost a month before any further cases started showing up.
Maharashtra has the highest number of cases and the most number of deaths related to COVID-19 so far. However, reports say that this number is due to the large number of tests being conducted and that a major part of these cases are not severe - which means they are more likely to recover. Those who have died are mostly in the high-risk category - above 60 years of age and with comorbidities.
The BMC had reported about 241 hotspots in Mumbai alone and the areas are being sealed to avoid movement of people in and out of it.
Delhi government has launched operation SHIELD to control the spread of COVID-19. Under the operation, healthcare officials are doing door-to-door checks for COVID-19 infection. Sealing the area, home isolation and contact tracing are being done in the hotspots. The operation has reportedly been successful in the Dilshad garden - one of the containment areas in Delhi.
Most states, including Delhi, Odisha, and Maharashtra, have made wearing masks compulsory.
Vaccine and medicines
At least four different COVID-19 vaccines are being developed in India already. Rapid testing kits have been developed in the country to reduce the cost of testing - like the MyLabs kit being used in Kerala. India is also ramping up the production of PPEs and face masks.
The country is set to do clinical trials on the use of plasma therapy (giving antibodies from cured patients) for treating severe cases. The trials may happen in Kerala. Plasma therapy has reportedly given positive results in three patients in the USA.
For more information, read our article on Passive Antibody Therapy.
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