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India coronavirus: 1 lakh figure reached, but lockdown delayed it

India coronavirus: 1 lakh figure reached, but lockdown delayed it

The number of Coronavirus infections in India crossed the 1,00,000 figure mark on Monday, with over 4,500 new cases being discovered. There are only ten countries now with more cases than India.

The 100,000 milestone has been delayed by almost three weeks due to the lockdown, first imposed on March 24. Computer modeling projections early last month had shown that at the rate the disease was spreading in the country at that time, if no lockdown had been put in place, this milestone would be reached by the end of April, if not earlier.

It had taken India 14 days to travel from zero to hundred cases, from March 2 to March 15, if the first three cases discovered in Kerala on January 29 are discounted. In the next 14 days, that is on March 29, the number of infections had reached 1,000. From there to 10,000 took another 15 days, and at that rate, India seemed headed towards 100,000 cases by the end of April, if the disease was allowed to spread exponentially, entirely unchecked.

However, it was at that time that the lockdown started to show its impact, and the spread of infection slowed down considerably. At the end of April, there were less than 35,000 cases in India.

The lockdown was imposed with precisely this objective – to slow down the spread of the disease so that authorities have enough time to prepare to deal with the growing number of patients. It seems that it did succeed in delaying the onset of the 100,000 milestone by about three weeks.

But as lockdown restrictions get progressively eased, to varying degrees in different states, the number of cases being reported daily are expected to shoot up, and signs of that already happening have begun to emerge.

On Monday, more than 4,700 new cases were reported from across the country, slightly less than a day earlier when more than 5,000 cases were discovered for the first time. Between May 4, when lockdown rules were relaxed, and now, more than 50,000 cases have been found. While this may look like a major surge, the growth rate had actually been slowing down till a couple of days back. The doubling time of cases had also been getting consistently longer. In the last two days, the growth rate has increased, and consequently, the doubling time has come down, though both these changes are marginal as of now.

Not surprisingly, the numbers from the top five states — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Rajasthan — contributed more than 75 per cent to the total addition on Monday. That has been the trend almost every day.

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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