When India went into lockdown on the midnight of March 23, the number of coronavirus cases in the country stood at less than 500 — 498 to be precise. Over the next 20 days, cases have risen more than 20-fold to hit 10,000 late on Monday. This rise during a period of unprecedented social distancing in the country may appear alarming, theres also some good news hidden in the statistics.
India is the 22nd country to register 10,000 Covid-19 cases. Our total cases per million people remain among the lowest in the world at around seven, even though Indias record of testing is poor (137/million people). For perspective, the US has nearly 1,700 cases per million and Spain more than 3,500. A ramped up testing regime in India may possibly raise the number of cases. But since the cases per million are so low, even a significant rise will not radically change the overall scenario.
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The other cause for cheer, albeit slight, is the doubling rate of cases — that is, the time taken for cases to double, a widely used statistical tool to gauge the spread of any infection. Even as the spike caused by infections linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregations in Delhis Nizamuddin last month continues, there has been a marginal slowing of the doubling rate. The current rate of doubling is a little over six days — the country hit 5,000 cases on April 7 — up from close to 4 in the first week of this month. But the threats too are clear. However the sharp rise in new cases on Monday, when over 1,200 were reported, could be pointing to a new phase of the coronavirus outbreak.
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