By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) With the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the world, including major cities in the US, Europe and Asia, there seems to be place which is ummune this highly contagious virus.
In India, coronavirus is expanding its tentacles in many major cities, and in the backdrop of the incremental steps being taken by the government to move the wheels of the economy, the biggest challenge will be to contain the spread of the virus in the commercial hubs across the country.
Speaking to IANS, Rajni Kant, Director, ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre, said that it is likely that the virus will hit the commercial hubs in India hard due to the sheer density of population in those areas, which proves to be the just-right environment for the viral infection.
“Look at Dharavi in Mumbai, where many people live in a one-room house and share a single toilet. In this scenario, it is extremely difficult to contain the spread of the virus unless people follow social distancing norms and maintain hygiene. The situation is similar in the commercial hubs across the country where population density is very high,” said Kant.
He insisted that some cities seem to be more vulnerable to the spread of the virus and more exposed to its most insidious impact.
The upside of high-density urban agglomeration is considered justifiable in terms of the economies of scale its population provides, but the downside, in the backdrop of the nature of Covid-19 spread, can prove to be disastrous in containing the outbreak of the viral infection.
“After lockdown relaxations, managing the viral infection in commercial hubs will be a crucial challenge,” said Kant.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, these urban spaces can become defenceless whereas these issues may not crop-up in in the rural spaces, he added, citing the large number of positive cases in Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Kant said the pandemic poses risk to people in dense mega cities, where the sheer density of population proves to be an ideal environment for the infection to spread rapidly and hit the public health system in these cities.
On India is set to cross China’s Covid-19 tally, Kant said we have a lower mortality rate than China and this comparison is not appropriate.
“Look at the distribution of cases. In China, the majority of cases are concentrated in Hubei province, but in India cases are spread across the country. In China, the government implemented strict lockdown measures, and literally stopped the movement of people out of the province. But in India people are moving, which creates a ground for the virus to spread,” said Kant.
Queried on re-strategising the testing model, Kant said, “We are already conducting one lakh tests in a single day, and have also began testing at random to observe if people have developed antibodies against the infection even though they show mild symptoms.”
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])