FAQ: Has India Crossed COVID Peak? When Will the Pandemic End?

The Quint
·4-min read

India is past the coronavirus peak, said a government-appointed committee on Sunday, 18 October, pointing at the reducing number of cases over the last two weeks.

From recording 97,000 cases to logging an average of 60,000 cases – active cases in India have also reduced.

However, at the same time after months of denial Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan admitted that India was at the ‘community transmission’ stage.

So, what exactly is the Centre saying now? When will be the pandemic be in control?

Is India past the COVID peak?

A government-appointed panel has indicated that India's coronavirus cases might be past its peak as the number of cases have fallen sharply even with the ease of restrictions and no reduction in the tests conducted.

When will the pandemic end?

According to the panel, if all the safety protocols are followed, then the active symptomatic infections can be controlled by February 2021.

Wait, but what is the Centre saying about community transmission?

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, responding to a question on community transmission in West Bengal, said that it is expected to be limited to certain states.

To put it simply, community transmission is when one is unable to trace the source of infection back to the carrier. This is the first time the Centre is responding in affirmative to a question on community transmission.

"In different pockets across various states, including West Bengal, community transmission is expected to occur, especially in dense areas. However, this is not happening across the country. It is limited to certain districts in limited states," Vardhan said.

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Does this mean there will be no coronavirus infections after February?

No, that is not what this means. India will still records spurts of infection, in varying numbers across the country. However, if the said precautions are followed, then these infections will simply be in control.

The committee also said that the total projected symptomatic infections would be 1,06,000 by February 2021.

Who are the members of this government-appointed panel?

The government-appointed panel is headed by IIT Professor M Vidyasagar. It was constituted to help the government make short and medium term plans and decisions to control the pandemic.

Expert on infectious diseases Professor Gagandeep Kang and IIT-Kanpur Professor Manindra Agrawal are among the other members of the panel.

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What are the reasons for fall in number of cases?

While the government panel did not spell out the reasons for this, speaking to The Indian Express, it said that the infection may actually spreading through a very small number of people.

“Look, we all have varying degrees of contact with people. We may have 10-15 people with whom we interact on a very regular basis, then another larger set of people whom we might be meeting occasionally, and an even larger set with whom we rarely interact. During restrictions, we would be interacting mainly with people within our innermost circle. Whatever infections had to happen in that small circle of contacts might already have happened. Once that has happened, the numbers are expected to decline. For fresh infections to take place, people need to start interacting with the larger sets, or with complete strangers, as with co-passengers in public transport. That has just begun to happen, and I suspect most of the infections that we see right now are a result of those kinds of interactions, rather than in the closed groups,” Dr Kang told the newspaper.

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Does this mean there will be another wave of infections in India?

Professor Agrawal said that it is not necessary that every country or region has to go through a second wave of infections, reported The Indian Express.

What are the major concerns in the coming months?

According to the experts, caution should be exercised in the coming months during/over:

  • Festival Season

  • Drop in temperature across India

  • Air Pollution in the north India

What are the precautions that should be taken?

Various studies conducted suggest:

  • Wear masks

  • Practice physical distancing

  • Practice respiratory hygiene

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

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