New Delhi: “We have to learn to live with the virus," the government declared on Friday, 44 days after putting the tightest squeeze on the country to contain the contagion.
The words by Lav Agarwal at Friday’s presentation of the coronavirus numbers sounded ominous, especially after he disclosed that the doubling time of COVID-19 cases in the country, meaning the time taken for the cases to double, had come down from 12 days two days ago to 10 now.
On Friday night, the covid19india.org tracker, which tracks the states closely, indicated we have 59,642 cases of coronavirus infection in the country. Meaning that by May 18, we’ll have 1,19,284 or thereabouts.
Lav Agarwal is a joint secretary in the Union Health Ministry. He meant to be reassuring but the import of what he said was that it was down to individuals and communities.
“And when we are talking about learning to live with the virus, then it is very important that the guidelines that are there on saving oneself from the virus are adopted in the community as a behavioural change," he said.
Agarwal did not take issue with the projection held out, on the basis of statistical modeling, by AIIMS Delhi director Dr Randeep Guleria that the peak of the disease in India may be reached in June or July. He only said, “If we follow the prescribed dos and don'ts, we may not reach the peak in number of COVID-19 cases and our curve may remain flat.”
And if the precautions are not taken and the guidelines are not followed properly, “there can be chances of a spike in cases,” he warned.
Asked how many cases India may witness if the peak indeed came in June-July, Agarwal parried: different organisations have projected different figures, ranging from the thousands to crores.
Giving district-wise on coronavirus incidence, Agarwal said there are 216 districts in which no COVID-19 case has been reported till date. Forty-two districts had no fresh cases in the last 28 days, 29 reported no new cases in the last 21 days, 36 districts had no cases in 14 days and so on.
Those were the rosier parts of the data, but the sum total despite that was that the doubling time has hastened, not slowed, and there is going to be a peak to endure a month or so hence. That’s because while the country’s 319 green zones are holding out against the virus or even reporting progress, news from the 130 red zones and 284 orange ones is worse and worsening.