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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India - statistics & facts

India witnessed an outbreak of the coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2 in late January 2020 when three Indian students travelled to the southern state of Kerala from Wuhan in China - the epicenter of the outbreak. All three tested positive for COVID-19, confirming a local contagion. At the same time, several other cases were detected in other parts of the country, most of which were linked to people with a travel history to affected countries. Infections increased rapidly since March, with a significant growth in testing.

The state of Kerala was commended for acting speedily in containing further spread of the virus. Thousands were consistently being placed in home or institutional quarantine, monitored for symptoms and infections. However, India had one of the lowest testing rates for the virus compared to other countries, despite ramping up over recent months.

India’s healthcare workers and public officials were vigilant in their fight against the virus. Despite that, the country’s healthcare infrastructure may not be enough in the face of an epidemic. Data from 2017 showed India had less than 0.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people Moreover, the country’s population density was one of the highest in the world, making it harder to contain local transmissions if strict precaution measures are not followed. A lacking healthcare infrastructure also remains a major cause for concern. This was because of an inadequate public system leading to shifting the weight to the private sector, which was not prepared for an emergency of this magnitude.

The Modi-led government announced a nation-wide lockdown in the end of March. This continued into May, when districts were divided into zones depending on the level of infections. With the responsibility lying mainly with state governments, red zones saw intensified checking and pool testing. Relaxations on lockdown measures varied depending on the status of zonal infections. An increase in daily cases and a rising death count put India ahead with the fastest infection rate worldwide in August 2020. The government, however, claimed that recoveries were significantly higher than the number of active cases. The south-western state of Maharashtra reported the most cases across the country.

The vast population affected by the government's four hours’ notice- lockdown caused widespread panic and chaos, especially for migrant workers in the informal sector. Nearly two months in, the economic impact of the virus and preventive measures were devastating, urgently requiring the economy to reopen.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India

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