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India’s Covid-19 Tally Crosses 75 Lakh-mark Day After Centre Sounds Caution Ahead of Festive Season

People wearing PPE sanitise a pandal ahead of Durga Puja in Kolkata. (Reuters)

People wearing PPE sanitise a pandal ahead of Durga Puja in Kolkata. (Reuters)

The figures come a day after a government appointed committee of experts on the coronavirus pandemic warned of an exponential increase of 26 lakh cases within a month if Covid-19 precautions are not followed properly during the festive season and the oncoming winter.

India’s coronavirus tally crossed the 75 lakh-mark on Monday with 55,722 fresh Covid-19 cases and 579 deaths in 24 hours. While the total cases stood at 75.5 lakh, the death toll was reported at 1,14,610. The figures come a day after a government appointed committee of experts on the coronavirus pandemic warned of an exponential increase of 26 lakh cases within a month if Covid-19 precautions are not followed properly during the festive season and the oncoming winter.

The 10-member committee, headed by Niti Aayog member VK Paul, arrived at the figure after conducting a study on ‘Progression of the Covid-19 Pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts’, based on a mathematical model to map Covid-19 progression.

It can be as much as "up to 26 lakh cases within a month”, the panel said, warning of a second wave of infections in the winter when respiratory viruses thrive in cooler temperatures.

The committee, set up by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, has concluded in its assessment that the approaching festive season may increase susceptibility to the infection.

It also said that district-level and higher level lockdowns are not much effective now, adding that if norms are adhered to, there is a possibility of the pandemic being controlled by early next year.

“In India, the new coronavirus cases and number of deaths have declined in the last three weeks and the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states…. However, there are five States (Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal) and 3-4 Union Territories (UTs), where there is still a rising trend,” Dr. Paul said.

“We cannot rule out (a second coronavirus wave this winter in India). Things can happen and we are still learning about the virus,” he noted.

Stressing on Covid-appropriate behaviour during festival season and winter months, he said, “Because of the winter season, some increase in pollution in north India as well as festival season, we have to be very careful... coming months are a challenge. One would be worried that we could lose the gains that we have made.”

“If we don’t take precaution, if we are not careful, because we are susceptible there can be escalation. God forbid, but we can avoid it…. This is in our hand, whether India has another wave or not is very much in our own hand,” the Niti Aayog member said.