August 3, 2020
On a day when India recorded the highest daily spike in the novel coronavirus cases in the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the rise in India’s infections should be seen in context with its large population and increased testing.
At a press conference held in Geneva, WHO Executive Director Dr Michael J. Ryan told India Today TV that India’s high number of cases should be seen against the backdrop of its massive population.
“India has a very high number of cases, but, I think we should see the numbers against the backdrop of country’s size and a massive population of 1.3 billion people. There has been a move in the last number of days to really expand testing and to allow greater freedom to medical practitioners to recommend testing,” WHO executive director Dr Michael J Ryan said.
The WHO official stressed that India needs to continue to “test, isolate and treat” its cases.
“India has done well on sampling, has tested almost 20 million already and does, on average, about half a million tests each day. Clearly, India is determined to expand its testing regime further,” said the WHO official who leads the team responsible for international containment and treatment of Covid-19.
According to Michael J Ryan Indian government is importing further oxygen concentrators as part of its response.
Infections in rural areas, young population a concern
Asked if the global health body is concerned about the increasing Covid numbers in India, Dr Ryan said that although a large number of cases are from certain areas, the WHO is concerned about infections in rural areas.
“Our concern at the moment is that disease is now spreading in rural areas that don’t necessarily have the same strength in the health system and that we will see increased infections and potentially increased mortality,” Dr Ryan told India Today TV.
WHO is also concerned about India’s young population getting infected, which Dr Ryan called a pattern. “The pattern of the disease moving into younger age group in India is another concern,” he said.
Dr Ryan said India is clearly facing a challenge and government is ramping up its response but India will have to keep up very “strong and sustained efforts” to both prevent the spread and treat the infected.
The WHO official also said India is playing a “leading role” in the development of potential vaccine candidates and development of potential Covid drugs.