India now 9th worst-hit nation as Covid-19 cases pass 1.6 lakh

India now 9th worst-hit nation as Covid-19 cases pass 1.6 lakh

India reported 7,466 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data this morning. This is the first time that more than 7,000 coronavirus cases have been detected in a 24-hour period and follows seven straight days of more than 6,000 new cases per day. The number of deaths over the past 24 hours is 175.

The total number of coronavirus cases is now 1,65,799, the total number of deaths is 4,706 and the number of people who have recovered is 71,106.

Yesterday, India passed 1.6 lakh coronavirus cases, making it the ninth worst-hit in the world and among the top five countries in the number of new cases.

 The rise in the number of cases comes with only two days to the end of the fourth phase of the lockdown.

Over 80 per cent of the active cases are in five states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, with Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad and Chennai reporting nearly 60 per cent of the cases.

More than50 per cent of people who have died of Covid-19 have been aged 60 and older and many have underlying conditions, showing how elderly people are more vulnerable to the disease.

Infections are surging sharply, up from 536 cases on 25 March when the country was under the first phase of the world’s harshest lockdown. The rise in infections is outpacing growth in testing – tests have doubled since April but cases have jumped fourfold.

Official data suggests that the more than two-month-long grinding lockdown has prevented the loss of between 37,000 and 78,000 lives. A paper published in Harvard Data Science Review seems to support the data; showing an eight-week lockdown can prevent about two million cases and, at a 3 per cent fatality rate, prevent some 60,000 deaths.

But lockdown at the end of March led to an exodus of millions of migrant workers who lost their jobs in the cities and began returning to their native villages in droves. 

According to reports, some four million workers have travelled by rail from cities to their villages in more than half a dozen states in the past three weeks.

This has already led to the spread of infection from the cities to the rural areas. And with the easing of the lockdown measures, there are growing fears of infections spreading further in the cities.

Surging infections and a low fatality rate hints at milder infection in a younger population and a large number of asymptomatic cases. Amitabh Kant, CEO of the government think-tank NITI Aayog says that focus should be on reducing fatalities and improving the recovery rate.

With a steady surge in coronavirus admissions in Delhi and Mumbai, health experts and doctors worry about a looming shortage of hospital beds, including in critical care.

When the cases peak in July, as is expected, a surge in infections could lead to many avoidable deaths as hospitals run out of beds for, or delay treatment to, infected coronavirus patients who need timely oxygen support and clinical care for recovery.