50 per cent of Indian population could be COVID-19 infected by December: NIMHANS Neurovirology head

The numbers will go up from June onwards after Lockdown 4.0 ends on May 31, and there will be community spread.
For representational purposes (Photo | PTI)
For representational purposes (Photo | PTI)

BENGALURU: There will be a spike in COVID-19 cases after Lockdown 4.0 ends, cautioned Dr V Ravi, Head of Neurovirology, National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and nodal officer in the Karnataka Health Task Force for COVID-19.

“The country has not yet witnessed the spike in cases. The numbers will go up from June onwards after Lockdown 4.0 ends on May 31, and there will be community spread.

By December-end, half of India’s population is likely to be infected with the virus, but the good news is that 90 per cent of them will not even know that they have got the infection,” he added.

“It’s only 5-10 per cent of cases that will have to be treated with high-flow oxygen and only 5 per cent would require ventilator support,” he added.

Dr Ravi said that with the Lockdown 4.0 ending in the next few days, it is important for the states to be fully geared up with medical infrastructure to handle the increase in cases, especially those which will require intensive medical care and treatment.

To prepare the states to handle the spike, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), under the direction from the Prime Minister, has directed all the states to have at least two Covid-19 testing laboratories in each district.

Karnataka on Wednesday became the first state in the country to reach the target of 60 laboratories.

“Today, we have given approval for a Covid-19 testing laboratory at Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), Bengaluru, and with that we now have 60 laboratories, which will map up for the 30 districts in the state,” he said.

He said that on April 15, he was given the task to set up 60 laboratories in the state, when there were only 15 testing laboratories. “I am grateful for all the support extended to us by the State Government. My dream now is to set up 75 testing laboratories in Karnataka by June 15 to increase our testing capacity,” said Dr Ravi.

Speaking on the mortality rate in the country, Dr Ravi said that it ranged between 3 and 4 per cent, with Gujarat recording the highest mortality rate at 6 per cent.

“We will have to wait for the vaccine till March next year. People will learn to live with COVID-19, with all necessary precautions and preventive measures. The novel coronavirus is not as deadly as Ebola, MERS and SARS,” he said. 

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