'Grave concern': Scary graph shows world's new virus epicentre

·3-min read

India’s coronavirus cases are continuing to surge with more than 80,000 new cases in the last 24 hours taking the total past four million.

India reported 87,715 new cases of the virus on Friday (local time). It’s the biggest daily total any country has recorded since the pandemic began.

The country is closing in on Brazil for the world’s second-most number of COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

A health worker in personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a patient for Covid-19 in New Delhi. Source: Getty
A health worker in personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a patient for Covid-19 in New Delhi. Source: Getty

Brazil currently has nearly 4.1 million cases while India has just over four million. The US still has the most globally with 6.2 million.

Official data shows India’s dramatic rise in cases over the past few weeks with a staggering increase in the final days of August.

Dr Shahid Jameel, a virologist and CEO of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance told The Guardian what’s even more worrying is that India is the only one of the top three nations in total cases “showing a rising curve”.

“This is a matter of grave concern and there is an urgent need to reverse the trend,” Dr Jameel told the Guardian.

India added nearly two million coronavirus cases in August alone. Pune, Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai are its worst-hit cities, but new hot spots continue to feed surges in cases in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states.

Despite the frightening spread of the virus, the Indian government is keen to keep reducing restrictions. In a country of 1.4 billion people, only those places most affected by the virus remain under some sort of lockdown.

People are crowding markets and other public spaces with potential safety measures like masks and social distancing largely unenforced.

Justifying lifting of lockdown restrictions while infections are surging, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the testing capacity has been ramped up and safety procedures put in place.

“While lives are important, livelihoods are equally important,” Mr Bhushan said.

Projections show 1.9 million more people to die of coronavirus in 2020

A widely cited model predicts worsening outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere will lead to 1.9 million more coronavirus deaths in 2020 — unless governments act.

Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is "a tremendous amount of COVID fatigue" among the world's government leaders because of economic downturns, Dr Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said.

That’s more than twice the current number of fatalities which is more than 870,000 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A health worker screens people for symptoms of COVID-19 in Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums, in Mumbai, India on Friday. Source: AAP
A health worker screens people for symptoms of COVID-19 in Dharavi, one of Asia's biggest slums, in Mumbai, India on Friday. Source: AAP

Dr Christopher Murray said the projections offer “a daunting forecast”.

“We are facing the prospect of a deadly December, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States,” Dr Murray said. 

“But the science is clear and the evidence irrefutable: mask-wearing, social distancing, and limits to social gatherings are vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus.”

The Institute modelled three scenarios:

  • A “worse case” in which mask usage stays at current rates and governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements, leading to four million total deaths by the end of the year;

  • A “best case” of two million total deaths if mask usage is near-universal and governments impose social distancing requirements when their daily death rate exceeds 8 per million; and

  • A “most likely” scenario that assumes individual mask use and other mitigation measures remain unchanged, resulting in approximately 2.8 million total deaths.

with AP

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