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COVID-19 in India: 59 days to first 1,000; 5 days to the next

New Delhi: As the number of COVID-19 cases in India crossed the 2,000-mark on Thursday evening, official data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare shows that while it took 59 days for the country to go from one confirmed case of COVID-19 to 1,000; the next thousand has come in just five days. On the one hand, this data shows a sharp spike in the number of cases but on the other, it is also an indication that India has severely ramped up testing for the Coronavirus compared to earlier, now that private laboratories have begun collecting and testing their own samples.

Testing data from the Indian Council of Medical Research shows that India has ramped up testing as private laboratories began testing their own samples. As per the numbers, India had conducted 9,740 COVID-19 tests between March 20 and March 25. Most private laboratories began testing their own samples around March 25 and in the seven days since then, ICMR data showed that India had conducted over 21,700 COVID-19 tests. As of April 1, India had performed a total of over 47,000 Coronavirus tests.

One official from Thyrocare, one of the labs approved for private testing in Mumbai said that they had been testing samples tested by the government earlier but that now they had started collecting their own samples and testing them for the novel Coronavirus.

Interestingly, another silver lining is that India has been one of slowest countries to progress from one COVID-19 case to 1,000 cases. However, compared to other countries across the world, India has also been testing very few people. Data shows that India is currently testing about 32 people per million whereas countries like Italy, South Korea, UK and the USA are testing at least more than 2,000 people per million of their population.

Although there might be concerns that despite the lockdown, India is recording such large jumps in the number of Coronavirus cases; it is now a matter of record that most of the new cases in the last few days have been from the Nizamuddin cluster at the site of the Tablighi Jamaat conference at the beginning of March –before the 21-day lockdown was announced by PM Narendra Modi. The transmission in this hotspot has so far led to 400 people who attended the event testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which added that around 9,000 attendees of the event had been identified by authorities spread across the country.

Furthermore, it is expected to take more than two weeks for the results of the lockdown to reflect on the number of COVID-19 cases in India.

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