South and Southeast Asia have a combined population of over 2 billion people, and India could be an example of the whole region at large.
Like India, many countries are characterised by huge cities containing neighbourhoods that contain millions of people living close together in often highly unhygienic conditions. Even the most basic protocols for warding off Covid-19, such as hand-washing and social distancing, are all but impossible to practice.
“India is a hugely populous country. The future of this pandemic will be determined by what happens to densely populated countries. It’s important that India takes aggressive action at the public health level and at the level of society to control and suppress this disease,” said Mike Ryan, World Health Organisation emergencies program director.
In India, the world’s second-most populous nation, churches across the country finally closed their doors on 23rd March, more than a week after the Vatican decided to have Holy Week services behind closed doors.
On 24th March, the Indian government ordered people not to leave their houses for three weeks.
Yet already, many have chosen to ignore government directives, underscoring the task Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ahead of him. Assuming the World Health Organisation’s 3.4 per cent fatality rate compared to confirmed infections, India could have almost a million confirmed cases by the end of May, with more than 30,000 deaths. Some estimates are as much as double those numbers.
Picture: A priest celebrates Mass for a live telecast in an empty church during the coronavirus pandemic in Mumbai, India, on 21st March 2020. (CNS photo/Francis Mascarenhas, Reuters).