India registered more than 20 million Covid-19 cases, but the government says that cases are “slowing down. The country reported more than 355,000 cases on Tuesday, down from more than 400,000 daily cases on 30 April. But the testing numbers have dropped as well, alarming fears that India’s actual caseload is far higher.
However, Covid numbers have been consistently falling in Maharashtra state, which was driven by the second wave since early April.
Meanwhile, an oxygen shortage has shown zero signs of decreasing, and people in many Covid hotspot cities, including the capital Delhi, are striving for treatment.
India’s second wave, fuelled by negligent safety protocols, massive public festivals, and election rallies, has swamped the hospitals. The delays in testing, diagnosis, treatment, and a shortage of critical care beds and crucial drugs, have resulted in a surge in fatalities.
The country till now has recorded more than 222,000 deaths due to the Covid-19. But experts say that India’s Covid death toll is significantly under-reported as official tallies don’t match to what people are witnessing on the ground, huge lines at the crematoriums, mass funeral pyres, and cities running out of space to cremate or bury the dead.
Experts mostly look at weekly averages rather than daily cases for a more accurate picture. And on average, India’s cases were rising last week but are growing at a slower rate than the past week. Many states have enforced restrictions, like full lockdowns and night curfews.
According to the BBC, daily cases have also fallen on average in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra, all hotspot states. While Maharashtra’s testing numbers have been steady, Delhi’s numbers have dropped in recent weeks.
Experts say the other issue is the lack of testing. While Uttar Pradesh, one of the worst-affected states, has recorded no drop-in testing figures, it’s testing far less compared to other states. With more than 220 million people, India’s most populated state is doing about 184,000 tests per million people. Compare that to Tamil Nadu, which has about 75 million people and is doing more than 300,000 tests per million of its population.
Health officials said there was “cautious hope” of some break from the second wave. But the Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal, said that the “gains” were very early and needed to be sustained by “containment measures at district and state level.”
As the pandemic moves through the country, experts also say that other hotspots are most likely to emerge in the coming weeks.