As cases surge Indian states go back to lockdowns

As cases surge Indian states go back to lockdowns

  • With the second-highest number of cases in the world, the race is on to stop the spread

India now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind the United States, with cases jumping by 25,000 per day for the past four days.

India is also the world’s third-worst affected country with 880,000 cases, still about half of Brazil’s 1.87 million and well below the 3.4 million in the US.

But India has a population of 1.38 billion, compared with 331 million in the US and 212 million in Brazil.

South Asia could soon be the world’s main hotspot after Latin America and the US. Pakistan had 249,000 cases and Bangladesh 184,000. Pakistan has had less severe lockdowns than India because of its precarious economic state, but also has a greater potential to spread the virus beyond its borders to West Asia.

In India, the spread of the virus has been indiscriminate, hitting towns and villages, rich and the poor, even though in most places three-fourths of the cases are asymptomatic.

Amitabh Bachchan, one of the most popular actors in Bollywood, and three of his family members have tested positive. Several other Bollywood stars have also tested positive, despite work being stopped at all the movie studios as well as at post-production processing offices.

So how are Indian governments at various levels addressing the pandemic?

The federal government has left most of the responsibilities to states after an initial two-month countrywide lockdown, the world’s biggest.

Most states have been making efforts to increase the number of hospital beds, ventilators and intensive care units as well as trying to make testing cheaper and the procedure simpler. However, some were caught off-guard, even after the lockdown.

Many states are now using short-term lockdowns in selective areas in a bid to halt the spread of the virus amid a lack of social distancing, which has proved to be impossible in many places.