Is India prepared to handle the onslaught of Coronavirus?

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Coronavirus has entered India and is already disrupting everything from social life to economy on a large scale. India is going to face a tougher challenge than other countries such as China and Italy because of poor medical system, high population density and ignorance amongst the masses.

Coronavirus bringing life to a standstill in India is not a matter of if but when. India has already reported 170 positive cases infected from coronavirus with the death toll being 3. This might still sound like an accomplishment given the 1.3 billion population where case per million is 0.1 while in contrast the case per million in Italy is 400, but this needs to be taken in consideration that Italy had 152 cases till 23rd Feb and within no time, the active cases are reaching almost 25,000.

There are two possible reasons behind low cases reported in India, first, over 1.97 lakh passengers travelling in 1,818 flights have been effectively screened by medical professionals at the airports with suspicious passengers being isolated. Second, and more probable, reason is the low number of samples tested within the country; India has tested 6000-7000 samples across 52 testing labs set-up all across the country. In contrast, South Korea having less population than Tamil Nadu has reportedly tested more than 250,000 cases since January in drive-through testing centres that have been set up especially to combat the pandemic. India is only testing those with international travel history or those coming in contact with them though it is essential to test everyone showing even mild symptoms, this is no time to take chances.

The government is applying lockdown method where all public gatherings are outlawed so as to contain the spread of the virus. This method is effective because apart from the people showing severe symptoms, there is a huge population that might spread the virus showing mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The most effective carriers in this regard are children who might show no symptoms in themselves but will pose threat to the elderly they come in contact with. This lockdown method is employed by many countries including Italy.

As the government grapples with the options and prepares for the horror that is inevitable, the responsibility lies with each and every individual to co-operate with the state officials and medical professionals. There might not be any effective cure of the virus yet but a ray of hope is that it can be defeated by a bar of soap. As per Pall Thordarson, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, “the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.”

There are reports that the quarantine facilities in India are not up to the mark and that is the reason that people have run away from the isolation wards putting the lives of millions at risk. It is the duty of government to ensure that the citizens receive adequate medical care in this difficult time.

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