India preparing for a second COVID-19 wave in May: Report

New Delhi: The Union government is looking for various steps for gradual lifting of the nation-wide lockdown post May 3 and hope the doubling time of Coronavirus cases will increase from 7 to 12 days approximately by then. It is reportedly said that the government is preparing for the second peak in late May and early June, a report in The Indian Express said.

An epidemiological metric of how long an infectious disease takes for the number of cases to double — is 7.5 days, up from the 3.4 days before the lockdown, Health Ministry said.

With the lockdown implemented and precautions being taken, the government hopes that it will increase to 10 days by the end of the week, and 12 days by the first week of May.

The Indian Express quoted a source saying as, at our worst, our doubling time was 3.4 days. We are expecting to touch 12 by April-end or early May, but after that, as we gradually start to open up — the lockdown will definitely not be lifted in one go — there will be a gradual increase (in cases). We are looking at a second peak in late May or early June, but now that awareness levels are high and people are getting used to the idea of social distancing, masks etc, we do not anticipate the doubling time dipping to below 5 days at that point.

The report in Indian Express has stated that the COVID-10 cases will be concentrated around Urban and Peri-Urban areas, where virus management is less challenging as compares to the rural areas.

“However as Mumbai, Indore and Chandigarh have shown us, there are so many unforeseen developments in this battle. Sometimes cities that are expected to do well explode, while at other times cities where you expect a problem to happen somehow manage to hold it together,” said the source.

Area-specific lockdowns and relaxation will be a rule that will depend on the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases at least till September 2020.

The government has hoped that the second wave in late May and early June will not touch March high of 3.4 days doubling time but the rise in fresh cases will be seen.

It is reportedly expected that the medical infrastructure including hospital beds, PPEs, and ventilators in the country will be enhanced in June.

Health Ministry has recently bifurcated districts across the nation into red, orange and green zones depending on the rise and fall of the Coronavirus cases. These classified zones are under critical observation, the report stated.

According to The Indian Express, in her letter to the states last week, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan had said: “Containment operation would be deemed over when there is no case reported in 28 days from an area after the last case tests negative. Hotspots (designated red zones) will be assumed to be undertaking effective containment activities if no case is reported in the next 14 days (designated orange zones), and will be deemed successful in containment if no case is reported for 28 days (designated green zones).”

As explained in the report, the red zones are areas which account for 80% of the cases in the country, or 80% of the cases in a state or where the doubling time is less than four days.

According to the Health Ministry, currently there are 321 districts with no positive cases, 77 have not reported cases for 7 days; 62 for 14 days; 17 for 21 days; and 3 districts (Mahe, Kodagu and Pauri Garhwal) have not reported cases for 28 days.

Classification of districts into different zones is fragile, pointed an official, as a single case may send a district back into the red zone, the official added.

The government is observing international models, such as South Korea and China, to get an idea of how to structure life after lockdown.

“The broad criteria for lifting restrictions is clear — where the epidemic has been suppressed, there is a certain level of preparedness on the part of the district administration, and people have adjusted to the new normal of social distancing and other behaviour changes,” said an official.

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