Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – a situation report from India
Dr. Jagdish G. Gudewar、Dr. Rajesh R. Pharande
Mumbai Veterinary College, (MAFSU), Mumbai, India
Covid-19 cases in India as of 1st October, 2021
- a) Total confirmed cases: 33,791,061
- b) Newly confirmed cases on that day: 24,354
- c) Active cases on that date: 273,889
- d) Total death cases: 448,573
- e) New death cases on that day: 234
- f) A total 897,481,554 doses of vaccine given to people.
- g) India has tested 571,994,990 samples.
The biggest problem my country faced in the battle against COVID-19 is the high proportion of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of the novel coronavirus which dominated the second wave of the pandemic in the country (INSACOG report). Another problem was the huge population of India and population density. In India, the total infections and mortality are normally higher in metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kolkata, due to the large population of these cities.
The second wave of the pandemic hits the country in the March-April 2021. During this second wave, Maharashtra state government imposed statewide lockdown and afterwards divided the districts of the State into three zones, viz., green, red and orange depending on the number of COVID -19 cases. All domestic and international air travel of passengers, all passenger movement by trains, Metro rail services, Inter-State Buses for public transport, Inter-State movement of individuals was prohibited, except for medical services. All schools, colleges, educational/ training, coaching institutions, all cinema halls, shopping malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places, all social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ other gatherings, religious congregations were strictly prohibited. All religious places/ places of worship were closed to public.
The government directed all public agencies to work from home, except for people working in emergency services and food supply. Only the medical services, pharmacy and grocery stores were allowed to remain open. Wearing of mask made compulsory for everybody going out to any public places or traveling by any means. Fines of Rs. 200 to 500 were imposed on the people for not wearing mask and shops that do not follow the restriction rules are fined from Rs. 10,000 to 50,000.
There were containment zones where contact tracing was carried out. Home or Institutional quarantining of individuals was done based on risk assessment by medical officers. Testing of all cases and house to house surveillance by special teams and clinical management of all cases as per protocol and counseling of patients was done by government officials. Due to the tireless efforts of the government and all other agencies working in fight against COVID -19, the situation has now returned to almost normal. Step by steps, the restrictions were relaxed and now few restrictions such as wearing of mask and social distancing norms are compulsory at all the places. Air travels, train travel, bus travel had already started albeit following the government guidelines. Visits to malls, parks and religious places are allowed for vaccinated people under the guidelines. Shops and commercial places are permitted to operate on condition with social distancing and restricted timings.
For the diagnosis of COVID-19, the main types of diagnostic techniques, which are RT-PCR Rapid Antigen Test and Antibody test. These tests are provided free of cost to all by the government agencies, whereas those who wanted to be tested at private diagnostic lab can do so with their own payment. In the vaccination drive, at the beginning of 2021, India approved two vaccines, Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech, India and Covishield from the Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by Serum Institute of India, for emergency use in the country. India then started to immunize all elderly people and the medical professionals with 2 doses of the two available vaccines. Recently, India also imported Sputnik V vaccine from Russia and it is available commercially. A total of 897,481,554 doses of vaccine had been given to the people. This is the largest vaccination drive in the world by the Government of India. The vaccination was provided free of charge to all the people at the Government operating centers.
For preventive measures against COVID-19, Ministry of AYUSH (The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy, which has its purpose of developing education, research and propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems in India.) has suggested certain general measures against COVID-19 in the form of traditional medicines such as steam inhalation of fresh mint leaves or Caraway seeds once a day and taking Clove powder mixed with honey 2-3 times a day. It also recommended practicing Yoga and Pranayama daily. For enhancing immunity, half teaspoonful of turmeric powder in hot milk to be taken twice a day is also being endorsed. Chyawanprash to be taken in the morning was also suggested to bolster the immunity. Herbal decoction made from Basil, Cinnamon, Black pepper dry Ginger and raisin to be drank twice a day is also advocated.
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on India has been largely disruptive in terms of economic activity. Almost all sectors have been adversely affected but the most affected industries include services and manufacturing, specifically travel & tourism, financial services, mining and construction. Loss of human lives cannot be measured in term of economics. Shutting of school and colleges had caused educational losses to students. But the good thing is that excellent and cost-effective internet availability and good connectivity even in remote places made online education possible. Many NGOs and organizations work together with the government to support education as well as providing medical aids and services to the needy portion of the population.