New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday set the warning bells ringing regarding community transmission of coronavirus in his state and projected a frightening scenario of the pandemic worsening in July and peaking in September, which could mean prolonged or recurring lockdowns to deal with it and relief only in October when the curve starts flattening.
However, the Union Health Ministry reiterated yet again that there is no community transmission and all new cases are of contacts with infected persons. Health Joint Secretary Lav Srivastava further asserted at the daily press briefing that 1.62 lakh samples were tested on Thursday and only 0.2% were found to be positive.
That shows the deadly virus is not spreading, he pointed out. He said the government's priority is containment and the ministry will be the first to admit to community transmission whenever it happens.
Sharing the projections he has received from experts, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh told the media via video conferencing that 58% Indians are likely to get infected, while the count would be 87% in his own state.
“Many able people, top class professionals, including scientists and virologists, have produced a report which suggests India could peak by mid-September. University of Boston and John Hopkins have also said India will start peaking in July-August. The curve will start flattening in October.” he said, stressing that the circumstances are such that no government could afford to ease restrictions.
The CM said the Government of India is also privy to these "frightening and horrendous" projections, but still it has not accelerated the testing.
"We can see the figures are rising every day; also, the testing is nothing compared to the population. Things are not good. This is the start of the battle; we are in for a long haul. Look what is happening in the US, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and UK… We have to keep that in mind.”
His assessment about the crisis acquiring dreadful dimensions was anchored in his revelation: Punjab has a huge problem of people who returned from abroad; 95000 came to Punjab directly and 45,000 came via Delhi.
To quarantine them was a major operation. Right now, we have only 132 confirmed cases apart from 11 deaths but we are geared up for four phases. In the first phase, we may need 2000 beds, then 10,000, 30,000 and finally the number may go up to one lakh. We are taking over private hospitals, arranging for testing kits, ventilators, PPEs.”