Huge Drop In India's COVID-19 Cases Is 'Misleading': Experts

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India has been hit by a devastating new coronavirus wave in recent weeks which has many rushing to get vaccinated
India has been hit by a devastating new coronavirus wave in recent weeks which has many rushing to get vaccinated AFP / Arun SANKAR

India's COVID-19 cases have seen a significant drop the past weeks, with Mumbai reporting 70% fewer cases after becoming the epicenter of a devastating outbreak, but experts argue that the number is misleading. 

India has been hard hit by the novel coronavirus in recent months, with health officials reporting more than 400,000 new infections daily. But in the last week, the number of cases has dipped significantly. In the country’s financial capital of Mumbai, cases have plunged by 70%, reporting only 2,000 new infections per day from a high of 11,000, Fox News reported

The downturn was also seen in New Delhi where a surge in infections crippled hospital systems and crematoriums over the past few weeks. 

However, health experts, including World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan, say the data is unreliable due to a lack of testing in India’s rural areas. She also noted the “very high” national positivity rate, which is at about 20%. 

"There are still many parts of the country which have not yet experienced the peak, they are still going up," she said in a Hindu newspaper, according to Reuters.

"Testing is still inadequate in a large number of states. And when you see high test positivity rates, clearly we are not testing enough.”

K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, warned that a COVID-19 outbreak in the rural areas may become the biggest challenge for the country. 

"The transmission will be slower and lower, but it can still exact a big toll," he told Fox News. 

In Basil, located nearly two hours from New Delhi, 4,050 of the village’s 5,400 people have fallen ill. More than 30 people have also died in the past three weeks due to a lack of healthcare facilities, doctors and oxygen supply.

“Most deaths in the village have been caused because there was no oxygen available,” Sanjeev Kumar, the newly elected head of the farming community, told Bloomberg. “The sick are being rushed to the district headquarters and those extremely sick patients have to travel about four hours.”

Some experts believe the actual number of coronavirus infections and deaths could be at least five to 10 times higher than reported. 

"This drop in confirmed COVID cases in India is an illusion," S. Vincent Rajkumar, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, said on Twitter.

"First, due to limited testing, the total number of cases is a huge underestimate. Second, confirmed cases can only occur where you can confirm: the urban areas. Rural areas are not getting counted."


India has recorded more than 262,000 deaths so far, although experts say the actual toll is much higher
India has recorded more than 262,000 deaths so far, although experts say the actual toll is much higher
Photo: AFP / Arun SANKAR

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