The government wants to hide the devastating effect of Covid infection on Indian people because it will further tarnish the image of PM Narendra Modi.
By Rakesh Raman
Even with fake, understated Covid figures, India has come in the list of top 10 worst-affected countries. According to the global data available on May 26, India is at No. 10 in terms of confirmed coronavirus cases after the U.S., Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and France.
Although India reports that it has about 140,000 confirmed cases as of May 26, these are false figures. Actually, the number of Covid cases and deaths is much higher in India.
It is estimated that with nearly 2 million cases, at present India is at the top in the list of countries that have failed to control the contagion. The Covid data being released by the Indian government is wrong because India is not doing adequate testing on patients. With only 1.82 tests per 1,000 people, less than 1% of the Indian population has been tested so far.
There may be millions of infected people in rural India who are not being tested. According to independent research reports, India will have nearly 300 million Covid cases at its peak which is expected during and after July 2020.
In other words, the number of infected people in India will be approximately equal to the entire population of the U.S. which currently has the maximum number (1.6 million cases and 100,000 deaths) of the coronavirus cases in the world.
Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the US-based Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, and an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Bank, has warned India that in its worst-case scenario, 60% of its total population (or nearly 90 crore people) will get infected with the deadly virus. [ Watch related video on BBC site. ]
However, in view of the lockdown and curfews recently enforced by the Indian government, Dr. Laxminarayan believes that 20% of Indians will get infected, and the number may increase in the coming months if the people failed to follow the social distancing of at least 1.5 meters from each other. He added recently that the Covid cases in India are likely to peak in July.
Assuming that 100 million Indians are infected by July 2020, there will be 6 million (60 lakh) deaths in India because currently 6% Covid-infected people die. This is a huge number which will completely ruin the socio-economic structures in the country.
While the current Indian data is awfully wrong, there are millions of asymptomatic cases, false negative, and false positive cases, and at-home deaths which are not being recorded and reported by the Indian government.
People who want immediate tests are not being tested because of crumbling healthcare systems in the country. And there are hardly any contact tracing and quarantine facilities available in India.
The government wants to hide the devastating effect of Covid infection on Indian people because it will further tarnish the image of PM Narendra Modi, who has failed on almost all fronts in dealing with economic and social crises in the country during the past 6 years of his rule. Meanwhile, in an ongoing RMN Poll, 82% people say that PM Modi is not handling the coronavirus crisis effectively.
Recently, I sent a letter to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to take the correct data from the government.
However, the minister could not provide the actual information on the queries that I had sent. Obviously, the data being released by the government cannot be trusted as it is trying to understate the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus.
Now, the only remedy with the government is to extend the lockdown for a couple of months and enforce its stay-at-home and social-distancing guidelines strictly. But before announcing the new lockdown phase, the government must make arrangements for people – including migrant workers – to reach their homes.
In order to make the lockdown exercise effective, the Indian government must plan a reliable supply-chain mechanism to provide essential items at people’s homes. The government must also establish proper testing, contact tracing, and quarantining facilities and all the Covid information must be available in the public domain.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.
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