The currently announced numbers of COVID-19 cases in India is just the tip of an iceberg and the country will soon see an explosion in the volume, perhaps similar to China or Italy, say, medical experts and healthcare professionals, who are directly dealing with the patients in both public and private hospitals.
India has so far reported 258 confirmed cases, including Indian and foreign nationals, and four deaths, according to the latest data published by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
“The numbers that are currently declared and announced are just the tip of an iceberg and the actual number could be many more times of the one that we see now. Anyone who says the country has reached only stage-2 of the pandemic is just closing the eyes against the reality and I can say without a doubt that infection is simmering the society and an explosion is just a few days away,” said Dr Arun Kumar from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, in an interview with NDTV.
The rate of daily increase that we see even in the declared cases itself is reflective of a sudden spike, he said adding that, “We had only a very few (less than hundred) confirmed cases at the beginning of the week and it became 158 two days ago and it is 258 today.”
“We saw the highest rise in the number of confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and today there are reports that at least 30 more people have been tested positive at the National Viral Institute, Pune and I have already about one confirmed patient has come in contact with a number of doctors and medical staff at AIIMS, Bhopal, potentially adding many more numbers in the shortest span of time,” said Dr Kumar.
Meanwhile, the government move to allow private laboratories to test CoV 2 has been helpful in identifying more cases and also to make up the shortage of public testing facilities. This too has contributed to the sudden spike in confirmed cases.
Healthcare experts are in the view that considering the existing high rate of multimorbidities and poor level of healthcare infrastructure to treat patients in emergency situations, there are possibilities of a proportionate rise in deaths as well.
They also said the under-reporting of novel coronavirus cases was also due to wrong diagnoses and false negatives. Initially, the overall surveillance was poor in India. The airport level screening was apparently not as strong as it should be and the isolation and treatment protocols were not followed strictly. Inadequate testing facilities and missed diagnoses were also serious lags in India. People ignoring the seriousness of the situation and lack of caution among the general public to comply with the health advisories had also led to the uncontrolled spread and underreporting of cases.
On Saturday, the country’s leading drug industry lobby, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance said that its member companies along with the body is working with the Government including state governments to ensure that patients in India and the world continue to have access to medicines.
IPA member companies are closely monitoring orders and inventories of medicines. With an adequate stock of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), finished product formulations and channel availability, we would be able to sustain the supply of medicines for the coming months. We are not aware of any medicines shortage, to date.
We are working closely with the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGPA), World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters in Switzerland and its India office, Association of Affordable Medicines (AAM), USA, Medicines for Europe and several other country associations to assess international developments and any potential impact on the supply of medicines globally.
IPA and its companies are aligned to government initiatives of containment measures and social distancing while meeting supply commitments in the essential services for the availability of medicines, the industry lobby said in a statement.