New Delhi: As the government is expected to extend COVID-19 induced lockdown for another two weeks across the country, scientists and doctors are busy debating as to when India will witness the apex of coronavirus pandemic. The peak of any infection arrives when the affected cases reach the highest level and then start decreasing.
Some scientists speculate that India will witness the peak of coronavirus at the beginning of July, while the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that COVID-19 cases will start decreasing in India in late July. International Rating agency Standard and Poor’s, however, opined that apex of coronavirus will not arrive before September and this would lead to the decline of the Indian economy by 5 percent next year.
Therefore, from the perspective of health and economy, people of India should be ready for an extended battle against the deadly virus.
Doctors at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (Nimhans) believed that after the Lockdown 4, COVID-19 cases will increase further and India will enter the phase of community transmission. The Nimhans estimated that by December 2020 half of the country's population will be infected by the deadly virus, and added that about 67 crore Indians will be COVID-19 positive by end of the year.
It, however, said that 90 percent of these people will not even know that they have are coronavirus positive because most of the people do not show any symptoms, and only 5 percent in critical condition are admitted to hospital. If merely 5 percent of the 67 crore people in India fell seriously ill, this figure would be around 30 million.
The question arises that do we have healthcare facilities ready to tackle this situation. There are only 1,30,000 hospital beds available for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in India. In the coming days, hospitals will not have beds to admit patients and the same situation is currently being faced by many states. The situation is worse in rural India.
As of March 2019, there are only 16,613 primary health centers in rural India, and of these only 6,733 health centers work 24X7. Notably, 12,760 health centers have only 4 or more beds available. Rural India faces the crisis of community health centers as there are only 5,335 such centers in the country.
As of May 16, rural districts account for 21 percent of the total coronavirus cases in India. If we take this into account, about 3.5 crore people will be seriously affected by COVID-19 pandemic and of these 70 lakh will come from rural India.
Now, one can guess that rural India would be the new hot spot of coronavirus, and millions will pay the price for lack of health facilities.