On The Brink Itself, Turkish Media Says Worse Yet To Come In India

Since announcing its first coronavirus case three weeks ago, Turkey has recorded a steep, scary curve in new cases. Many experts have already termed Turkey as a probable hotspot for Covid-19 if appropriate measure are not taken.

The rapid rise in cases – 20,921 confirmed infections and 425 deaths as on Saturday afternoon, IST- has seen Turkey overtake other G20 states such as South Korea and Canada.

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Prem Shankar Jha, writing for The Turkish media – Anadolu Agency says that despite Indian PM Narendra Modi’s total lockdown, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has soared dramatically during the past week from 200 in three days to more than 400 in a single day.

Jha writes – when PM Modi announced the lockdown on March 24 the total number of infected persons with coronavirus was 476 with nine casualties. Nine days later, despite the lockdown, three has been a rise in infected persons and the death toll has crossed 70.

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Does that mean that the lockdown has not worked? Not necessarily. Some part of the increase is no doubt due to better and more comprehensive testing. But the main reason is that the past 48 hours are atypical because the data have been massively skewed by the discovery of a single enormous Covid-19 hotspot right in the capital New Delhi.

This is the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin – where the 14th-century Sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia and 19th-century famous poet Mirza Ghalib lie buried.

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The origin of the crisis lies in the religious congregation of Tablighi Jamaat where an estimated 4,000 people including 240 foreigners were present. The congregation took place from March 10-11 when India had not even announced prohibitions on foreign travel let alone cancelled the visas it had already granted.

The first of those measures were announced on March 13, and by March 18 all but a few airlines had cancelled their flights leaving many of the foreign visitors stranded in Nizamuddin. Two days later Delhi was in quarantine; four days later Delhi had its first trial lockout for 24 hours, and another 48 hours later the country was under total lockdown.

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That was the root cause that made coronavirus spread like wildfire amongst the visitors stranded at Nizamuddin. But even if they could not go home, Jha says the gathering could have been better managed by the Government.

By March 24, the majority of the 4,000 people had already left for their home-towns in India. That is the rationale why 110 new cases have been detected in Tamil Nadu and 67 in Andhra Pradesh. As many as 300 people had come from Kashmir, which is also reporting coronavirus cases.

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The real horror is only just starting, says Jha. One crucial failure of planning and anticipation in the lockdown has already sent tens of thousands of migrant workers struggling back to their home villages who literally have been thrown to the wolves.

State governments are struggling to manage their return. The tests conducted by the medics are only elementary (mainly checking the body temperature) which can only detect people with clear symptoms. Most people could be asymptomatic at this stage and since social distancing is almost impossible within a family, all of them will inadvertently infect others. The worse, therefore, is still to come.