India's Next Phase Of Virus Crisis Likely To Be Localised Ou
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Experts say that the relatively low hospitalization and fatality rates in India suggest the coronavirus pandemic is approaching its next phase - largely manageable local outbreaks. Although a handful of states are reporting a spurt in infections, for a country of 1.35 billion people with limited health facilities and where the practice of wearing masks and social distancing is falling off, the positive trend, if it holds, will be a respite.

It could also help India keep its economy open without any national lockdown. At more than 11 million, India has reported the highest number of cases in the world after the United States. A government survey suggests its actual cases maybe around 300 million, as many young people showed no symptoms.

Recorded cases have fallen continuously since a mid-September peak, before again rising since early February. Eight of 10 recent infections have been reported by five states, mainly Maharashtra and Kerala. The overall rate for India is 1.4% and 2.2% for the world.


Government health official Vinod Kumar Paul told a news conference that India was nowhere close to attaining herd immunity through natural infection or vaccination, requiring states to continue their surveillance. India has so far inoculated more than 12 million people.

"It's quite possible that we will be now seeing the pandemic transforming into smaller kinds of outbreaks, or endemicity is likely to take place," said Subhash Salunke, a former WHO official who advises Maharashtra on its COVID-19 strategy. Hospitalization rates have come down, especially in Maharashtra and Kerala that together account for three-quarters of India's 168,627 active cases.

"There will likely be another wave - likely will not be as big as the first wave because a lot of people got infected in the first round itself - so I think most metros should be ready for a second wave," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, founder of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in New Delhi.

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