1,071 coronavirus cases in India, schools extend leave until mid-June and global death toll crosses 34,000
At last count, India had 1,071 infections and 29 deaths. About 99 people have also been declared recovered.
Over 723,000 global cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed so far. Of these, close to 34,000 people have lost their lives. A marked change of tone can now be heard in top leaders’ announcements; US President Donald Trump extended social distancing measures till the end of April, and a top health official in the UK said current restrictions could be expected to last until Autumn. Both countries had until very recently, tried to put on a brave face to limit economic damage as much as possible. It appears that projections suggesting that over a million Americans could die should strict public health interventions not be implemented have coerced the latest development.
Italy and Spain continued to see a meteoric rise in fatalities, with the former crossing 10,000 deaths after recording a jump of over 700 in the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, Italy's Deputy Health Minister, Pierpaolo Sileri, who himself had tested positive for the novel coronavirus 2 weeks ago, said that the peak still had not been reached and that health officials were expecting a further surge this week.
The situation in India
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the official body addressing the pandemic, has maintained that stage 3, i.e community transmission, still hasn't been reached in the country. At last count, India had 1,071 infections and 29 deaths. About 99 people have also been declared recovered. There has been a consistent trickle of cases with no foreign travel, or link to foreign travel involved, raising fears of a stronger outbreak. The ongoing migrant crisis, along with cases in slums, magnifies these fears. On a brighter note, out of 202 positive tests in Kerala, only 4 have required intensive care, with the vast majority registering milder cases.
An analysis of the first 19 deaths showed that 14 were over 60 years of age, and 12 had preexisting conditions such as hypertension and diabetes (the figures are not mutually exclusive), suggesting that the trend here is in line with the global situation.
Experts maintain that testing remains excessively low - at last count, just under 35,000 tests have been performed. It remains to be seen how much testing can be stepped up since private players have been introduced. According to Indian Express, the country is equipped with 25,743 ICU beds. Should an outbreak occur, this will fall woefully short of requirements.
The government remained steadfast in the implementation of the lockdown; state officials have been told to double down on state borders to prevent the movement of traffic. States are trying to persuade migrants to stay put; the migrants counter by saying that they simply don’t have the money or food to stay on.
As a precautionary measure, some Delhi schools, including British School, have extended leave till the second week of June. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has asked states and different boards to revise the academic calendar. Based on this, new sessions might begin after the summer holidays instead of in April, as is customary.
The South Korean government said it would provide financial assistance to the bottom 70% of the population (in terms of income), covering around 14 million people. Handouts will vary, with families over 4 members receiving USD 817.
New York state, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has now crossed over 1,000 deaths. Health officials have been appealing for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), ventilators and assistance, warning that hospitals will soon reach capacity.
China continues to report fewer cases, with most new infections attributed to imported cases. Air travel has gradually been resumed in Hubei, the province where it all began, but restrictions are still in place in the city of Wuhan.
For more tips, read our article on How Coronavirus Spreads.
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