Two new cases of coronavirus in India: How much do we need to worry?
As coronavirus wreaks havoc in 70 countries around the world with over 3,000 deaths to its name, India has stayed relatively unscathed. But with two new cases reported today, one in the national capital and the other in Telangana, should we be worried? If yes, how much so?
As the Union Health Ministry revealed that India has recorded two more positive cases of the novel conronavirus, social media went into a panic mode on Monday.
The two new coronavirus cases were detected in Delhi and Telangana. The person from Delhi had travelled to Italy while the other had gone to Dubai recently, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said. "Both the patients had self-reported after they developed symptoms. They tested positive. They are stable and being closely monitored," he said.
This takes the total count of Indian patients to five — a trivial tally when one considers our proximity and close business ties with China, the hotbed of the epidemic. But with over 3,000 deaths across 70 countries we can't really take the deadly virus lightly.
"The virus is already spreading globally and there is fair indication that it will spread even further. Because a lot of the cases are still undetected and 80% of the cases only show mild symptoms and thus are hard to detect. So we must be vigilant so that it doesn't spread any further in the country," said Thomas Abraham, the author of Twenty First Century Plague, the Story of SARS.
Abraham, who has worked with World Health Organisation (WHO) in the past, said "the best precaution would be to maintain hand hygiene. Wearing masks won't be that helpful, except in the case when you are feeling sick and you don't want anyone else to get affected. As we know by now that it is highly transmissible and causes cold-like symptoms. So surveillance is very important at this stage and in case there is a postive case of covid-19, our hospitals need very good infection control. So that's something we need to focus on."
India have mostly steered clear of the deadly virus so far due to large-scale screening of passengers at airports, a robust quarantine system, and increased awareness among people.
Abraham doesn't think that the relatively less number of cases in India has much to do with India's reluctance to join the China-led Asian supply chain. "See, though India is not a part of the Asian supply chain it still imports quite a lot from China and $30 billion worth of bilateral trade happens every year. So I won't think that is 'the' reason behind relatively less number of cases in India," he says.
When it comes to comparing with other virus outbreaks, coronavirus is still less deadly than SARS and way less deadly than something like Ebola, Abraham opines.
"It's not the end of the world, it's another global virus. Yes it can be deadly, but there is no need to go into panic mode just now," Thomas Abraham said.