Corona battle is not over

Kashmir Times. Dated: 8/23/2020 12:21:42 AM

Despite claims of improvement in Coronavirus situation, the battle is not over as yet because the pandemic is unpredictable

With India’s Coronavirus death toll crossing 50,000 and more than 28 lakh reported infected people by the pathogen on Monday early this week, the country is fasting emerging as one of top three worst-affected nations in the world. At present the figures available show that India which was showing improvement in the situation caused by the pandemic and control exercised by the health authorities through lockdown since end of March this year, India has become third most impacted country in terms of deaths and infected patients apart from the economic losses suffered in the wake of the pandemic. The other top two countries being United States of America and Brazil in terms of mortality and infections. IN the backdrop of such dismal figures, there appear to be early signs of the country getting an upper hand in its battle against the contagion. For the first time since May this year, the Corona positivity rate, the percentage of the virus carriers amongst those tested, has begun to come down. This figure had touched a high of 9 percent on August 9 and has been on a decline ever since, it currently stands at 8.7 percent. It is also heartening that the infection rate has remained stable even as tests have been scaled up in most states across the country. The number of new positive cases has remained between 60,000-70,000 for two weeks now, much longer than it has remained in any other range. There are good reasons to treat optimism with caution. A breakdown of the national-level data suggests that some states have more work to do than others. The health authorities have claimed that Delhi has seen a continuous decline in the number of active cases for more than a month. From a high of about 28,000 at the end of June, the number of active cases has fallen to a little over 7,000 this week. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu remain Coronavirus hotspots but the two states have managed to check the speed of transmission by ramping up testing and shoring up medical amenities. But such alacrity has been at a premium in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and Telangana.

It is unfortunate that last week, the central government had to pull up these states for not conducting adequate number of tests even though they have a high positivity rate. Moreover, most states continue to test only those who show Coronavirus symptoms, or their close contacts. In the backdrop of a substantial number of Coronavirus carriers are asymptomatic, random tests could give an actual picture of the spread of the infection. Such tests could substantiate, corroborate and even disprove the results of the recent serological surveys in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, which indicate the number of people exposed to the virus could be much more than suggested by the data on confirmed infections. The pandemic will remain there and infect more people till a vaccine against it is found. In the past three weeks, Coronavirus clusters have resurfaced in countries that had flattened the transmission curve two months ago, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany and South Korea. The southern state of India, Kerala, which once the most successful state in containing the pandemic, has seen a spurt of cases in the past fortnight. The experience of the past six months will, no doubt, offer valuable lessons in combating the virus in the coming days and weeks. But the most important argument of some of the top experts is that this contagion is unpredictable, and there can be no letting the guard down. Similarly, not only the Centre, but also the states, that have not been impacted so far will have to be on the guard and check its recurrence. Unless the vaccine is found or an alternative medicine is developed, the scourge of infection will continue to stare the people across the globe and take its toll in the days and months to come.



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