GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the number of COVID-19 cases in India and other countries has been doubling every three weeks but the epidemic is not growing exponentially in the country and South Asia region.
“In South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries of South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded, but there is always the risk of that happening,” Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, told a news conference.
WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan noted that India has a population of 1.3 billion and has 200,000 reported cases which “looks big but for a country of this size it’s still modest”.
WHO epidemiologist Dr Maria van Kerkhove said PCR tests can show a person with mild infection being positive for fragments of the virus 2-3 weeks after the onset of symptoms and those with severe cases for much longer.
“We don’t know what that relates to in terms of infectiousness, if somebody can actually pass the virus,” she said.
Pakistan has witnessed a steep rise in the coronavirus cases in the last few weeks since the lockdown restrictions were eased in the country last month. There are 92,297 cases has been detected with 1,935 fatalities, while 35,581 people have recovered from the disease.
Experts said measures that could curb cases – like limits on religious gatherings and crowded shopping areas and emphasising social distancing – should be reinstated and some doctors are raising the alarm.
The government has insisted that the country can not afford another lockdown owing to the disastrous effects on the economy. It has instead urged people to adhere to social distancing and other safety measures to stem the virus outbreak.