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The continuing battle with Covid-19

The continuing battle with Covid-19
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The continuing battle with Covid-19 

Highlights

The number of new coronavirus cases in India continues to skyrocket. September, the feared month of escalation, is setting in now. Even though states are ramping up testing, getting the pandemic under control is easier said than done

The number of new coronavirus cases in India continues to skyrocket. September, the feared month of escalation, is setting in now. Even though states are ramping up testing, getting the pandemic under control is easier said than done. India reported 78,761 cases on August 30. This is the highest single day tally reported by any country since the pandemic began earlier this year. It surpassed a July 16 figure of 77,299 cases in the United States.

This means that the outbreak in India currently is worse than it was at the peak in the United States – the worst-hit nation in the world. This pushed the nationwide tally to 3,542,733. Eight states - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana - contribute around 73 per cent of the active caseload of the country.

Of these, no one is sure of the statistics reeled out by West Bengal and Telangana. Both are tightlipped about the same and in addition, try to suppress information. The death in the country stands at 63,657, after 948 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The country has overtaken Mexico as the nation with the third-highest Covid-19 deaths. The health ministry, meanwhile, said that the country's recovery rate has reached 76.47 percent which it said has been made possible by the strategic policy of "testing aggressively, tracking comprehensively and treating efficiently" in supervised home-isolation, facility-isolation and hospitals. The case fatality rate (CFR) has also been low when compared to the global average. It is on a continuous decline and currently stands at 1.81 percent, the health ministry said.

A significant feature of India's management of Covid-19 cases is the growing rate of recovered patients. A higher number of patients are recovering and being discharged from hospitals and home isolation, the ministry has continued to highlight. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a meeting of the group of ministers on Covid-19 on Aug 30 where he said that India has one of the lowest cases per million and deaths per million compared to the global average of 3,161 cases and 107.2 deaths, respectively.

Though India has significantly ramped up testing, it still has to go a long way compared to the best performers in the world and commensurate with the scale of Covid-19 in the country. India carried out more than one million coronavirus tests on Aug 21, realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pledge to ramp up tests to one million a day. (It fell to 801,147 and 609,917 tests in the next two days.) No doubt, India has achieved success to that extent. But, the fight in India is not uniform. Universally, epidemiologists recommend that 10 per cent of the population be tested. Unfortunately, doing this requires cooperation from the state governments.

At over 19,000 tests per million, West Bengal remains far from catching up with the national average as well as its neighbours. Then there is the case of Madhya Pradesh, which does not figure high in the list of states with most confirmed cases. The ostrich strategy of not wanting to know the extent of the problem is the worst way to deal with this pandemic, be it in Telangana, West Bengal or Madhya Pradesh. Powers that be should not fail the country.

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