For instance, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates deaths between 200,000 and 1.7 million in that country. There are other estimates as well – and all with ranges as wide. There are no studies for deaths in India yet (and if there are any, they are premature and based on insufficient data – which means neither this writer nor this newsroom will consider reporting on them). There will be, but perhaps when the number of infections and deaths rises substantially. I say “when” although I very much want to say “if” – but it is always best to expect and prepare for the worst even as one hopes for the best.
As of Tuesday, India has 536 infections, and ten deaths.
If the experience of epidemic hotspots such as Italy’s Lombardy and New York City (and state) is any indication, this is the number at which things start to get hairy. But it isn’t necessary that the virus will follow the same trend everywhere. For instance, the New York Times, quoting Dr Deborah L Birx, who is coordinating the White House’s response to coronavirus, said that in NYC, 28% of tests are returning positive results, while in the rest of the country the rate is “less than 8%”.
The virus continues to rage through Italy, with 602 people dying on Monday alone. That number is lower than the 651 deaths seen on Sunday and the high of 793 on Saturday, but it is not clear whether the country has seen the worst. Total deaths in Italy stood at 6,077 as of Monday night. On Tuesday, the total number of infections in the world were over 400,000, and deaths more than 18,000.
The lockdown was smoother across India on Tuesday. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended it to the entire country for 21 days, effective midnight. That means it will last till April 15.
Grocers and greengrocers, pharmacies and medical centres, continue to stay open – and the newspaper continues to be printed in most parts of the country. Many are concerned that the newspaper could transmit the infection. That seems unlikely . Most newspaper presses, including Hindustan Times’s are operations with a high-level of automation. And most are regularly fumigated and sanitised. All distributors and delivery people have also been made aware of the need to wash hands regularly, use sanitisers (which are provided), and gloves. Given all this, the chances of contracting the virus from the newspaper are actually lower than the chances of contracting it in some other way. And no doctor or health agency anywhere in the world has so far termed newspapers unsafe. People who are still not convinced (although there is no reason for them not to be) should ask for deliveries to be stopped – an additional point of stress of anxiety is something all of us can do without at this time – but continue to follow the websites or read the electronic (e-paper) version of newspapers such as Hindustan Times, which they can trust. The university of WhatsApp can be diverting at normal times, but it isn’t a great source of factual information – especially at times such as these.
Speaking of lockdowns, the one in Wuhan, the city in China’s Hubei province where the virus was first reported, will end on April 8, the Chinese government has announced. The city was put under a lockdown on January 23 (see page 7). The world will never know the true extent of the damage in the city. Nor will we ever know whether the pandemic could have been averted had China and the World Health Organization acted differently in December.
And speaking of lockdowns, the big question to ask, in India and anywhere else where a lockdown has been enforced