In the midst of worldwide gloom over COVID-19 pandemic comes a good news from New Zealand, which is set to declare itself virtually free from Coronavirus and will be lifting all restrictions on physical distancing and mass gatherings.
This small country in the Pacific rim has only one active case remaining and no fresh case for the last 11 days. However, border controls will continue to prevent any fresh infections arriving from outside. This country achieved this feat through the early imposition of strict lockdown norms for seven weeks.
We cannot compare India's case with that of New Zealand, which has a population of only 4.8 million while India's population is bursting at the seams with 135 billion. Delhi's population alone is nearly 20 million and that of Mumbai is 24 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic in India may take several months more to come to a subdued level. On Wednesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said that India is still far away from the "peak" right now, obliquely meaning that the months of June and July could see a rise in the number of cases and fatalities.
India's total number of COVID-19 cases shot up to 2,09,468 on Wednesday, out of which more than one lakh, that is 49.6 per cent have recovered. In terms of daily fresh cases being reported, India stands in the fourth position after USA, Brazil and Russia.
Nearly 50,000 fresh cases were reported in India within a span of six days, while it took 110 days to reach the one lakh figure. It took only 15 days for India to jump from one lakh to two lakh. Nearly 75 per cent COVID positive cases and 83 per cent COVID-related deaths are confined to only six states in India.
The death toll reported on Wednesday in India was 254, as it crossed the 6,000-mark at 6,079. This was India's second-highest single-day death toll, the highest was 270 on May 29. For the sixth consecutive day, the death toll crossed the daily 200-mark. Maharashtra alone accounted for 122 (48 per cent) deaths, followed by Delhi, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Fresh COVID-19 cases also reached a new high on Wednesday with 8,723 people tested positive. Delhi led from the front with 1,513 cases, followed by Tamil Nadu (1,286).
With the rising number of cases, the Delhi government on Wednesday declared three private hospitals, Moolchand, Ganga Ram and Saroj Super Speciality Hospital as COVID hospitals. Two of these hospitals will have to give 100 per cent of their beds for COVID-19 patients, while Ganga Ram hospital will have to give 80 per cent beds for Corona cases.
The people of India, particularly those living in hot spots, need to be extra vigilant. Now that Unlock-1 has begun after four phases of lockdown, most of the people have lowered their guards and are crowding market places as before.
Remember, social distancing is the key to fight this pandemic. Everybody must follow social distancing norms, and the wearing of masks and gloves is a must when people step outside their homes. India TV reporters have sent videos of hundreds of people disregarding these norms when going to market places in the heavily populated localities of cities like Jaipur, Meerut, Aligarh, Delhi.
The danger is far from over. On the contrary, a bigger danger in the form of a spike in the number of COVID cases is lurking. We must not let our guard down under any circumstances.
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