INDIA’S health system is bracing itself for a "tsunami" of 300 million coronavirus victims flooding into its hospital wards.
Indians are being forced to comply with the world's largest lockdown as the government begins the herculean task of keeping 1.3 billion people indoors to "save the country" from the killer Covid-19.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
In five days, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 has jumped from about 200 to 519.
But experts fear the real toll is likely to be much higher because of insufficient testing and the fact that millions could be incubating the virus.
In a frank interview with the BBC, Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, said India was on the brink of a coronavirus catastrophe.
He said: "I think India is going to be the next hotspot for the epidemic without question.
"We are likely to see the same tsunami of cases that Italy or Spain have witnessed recently, or was earlier seen in China, in a few weeks."
'AT LEAST 300 MILLION CASES'
"You have to remember that transmission of disease is easier in India because of population density.
"So the disease is probably transmitting in the community and very quickly, remember every case generates two additional cases."
If the same mathematical models used by the US or UK were applied on India, he said there could be least 300 million cases.
Of these about four to five million could be severe and require intensive hospital care to save their lives.
But Dr Laxminarayan said: "India only has about 70 to 100,000 ICU beds in the entire country. That’s what worries me a lot."
India has already implemented a series of wide-ranging measures.
Yesterday Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week countrywide lockdown covering nearly one-fifth of the world's population to save India and Indians.
In a TV address, he said: "To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family… every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown.
"The next 21 days are crucial for us… If we are not able to manage this pandemic then the country and your family will be set back by 21 years.
"This is in effect a curfew."
Television images from many cities and towns today showed shuttered markets and offices.
Normally bustling railway stations stood empty.
Still, Modi's speech triggered panic buying as online retailers Amazon and Big Basket, an Indian grocery delivery service, began cancelling previously placed orders and said they had no delivery slots available.
That spurred people to risk fines and other penalties for violating the lockdown by going out to shop at local stores.
Source: Read Full Article