India Could be ‘Next Coronavirus Epicenter’ in Asia

Indian officials have said the WHO guidance didn’t apply in India because the spread of the disease has been less severe than elsewhere.

DESPARDES — As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been Total Confirmed Coronavirus Cases of 203,529 with Total Recovered: 82,107; The total deaths have been 8,205 — 4pct fatality rate — substantially lower than MERS (34pct) and SARS (10pct).

The Highest Confirmed Cases were in China 81,086 which also recorded the Highest Recovery Rate of 86% (69,755). The Highest Fatality Rate is in Italy: 7.9%, according to data recorded by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to test as widely as possible to curb the pandemic.

“We need to be geared to respond to the evolving situation with the aim to stop transmission of COVID-19 at the earliest to minimize the impact. … We need to act now,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the WHO’s director for South Asia region told Aljazeera.

Indian authorities have said they will not expand coronavirus testing, as most affected nations are doing, despite criticism that limited testing could leave COVID-19 cases undetected in the world’s second-most populous country (1.334bln). China population was approx 1.386bln as of 2017.

WHO said that, while self-initiated isolation by people with mild symptoms remains the most important community intervention, testing of all suspected cases, symptomatic contacts of probable and confirmed cases, would still be needed.

India is conducting only about 90 tests a day, despite having the capacity for as many as 8,000. So far, 11,500 people have been tested, according to The Associated Press.

Officials have said the WHO guidance didn’t apply in India because the spread of the disease has been less severe than elsewhere.

The head of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s top medical research body, told Aljazeera the guidance was “premature” for India, where community transmission has not yet been detected.

“Therefore, it creates more fear, more paranoia and more hype,” he said.

India has implemented a 19th-century epidemic law that empowers public officials to enforce more rigorous containment measures and impose penalties and punishments for escapes.

“I don’t think these measures would be enough to contain the pandemic,” said Aditya Bhatnagar, the chief of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

India has high population density with more than 400m living in crowded cities, many without regular access to clean water, conditions that could allow the disease to spread rapidly.

Last week, a British citizen who approached a public hospital in New Delhi for coronavirus test was told she was not eligible under India’s testing criteria and turned away.

So far here has been 152 confirmed cases in India, with 14 recoveries and 3 deaths, the CSSE update revealed.