Since mid-March, a second wave of coronavirus cases has devastated the country of India.
The second wave hit the capital New Delhi hard, and spread throughout other states at an alarming speed. On April 20th, the country reported more than 295,000 new Covid-19 cases and 2,000 deaths, marking the country’s highest daily figure since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to prediction models from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations, India’s daily death toll is projected to continue rising until mid-May, with the possibility of peaking at 13,000 a day.
In the face of this crisis, healthcare and other essential services across the country are at risk of collapsing.
“Things are out of control,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.
Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, India has reported a total of more than 17.6 million cases. However, experts fear that the real number could be much greater.
“It’s widely known that both the case numbers and the mortality figures are undercounts, they always have been,” said Laxminarayan. “Last year we estimated that only one in about 30 infections were being caught by testing, so the reported cases are a serious underestimate of true infections.”
According to Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, this underreporting could be part of why India was caught off guard by the second wave.
Mukherjee explained that if policymakers had more accurate data in terms of cases, infections, and deaths, they would be much more prepared and able to anticipate the healthcare resource needs of the country.
In response to the rise in cases, authorities have imposed several new restrictions. On April 19, the union territory of Delhi, where New Delhi is located, was placed under lockdown. Starting Tuesday, the southern Karnataka state will impose a 9 p.m. curfew for the next two weeks, with only essential services allowed between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. The northern state of Punjab also announced similar measures, including a night curfew and a weekend lockdown.
Moreover, state authorities are waiting for aid to arrive from the government as well as overseas. Among the countries that have offered to provide assistance and send medical equipment are the US, UK, France, Germany, and Pakistan.