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Actual Number of COVID-19 Patients Much Higher in India, Medical Research Chief Claims

© REUTERS / Francis MascarenhasFILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past a bus stop displaying preventive measures against the coronavirus in Mumbai, India, March 18, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past a bus stop displaying preventive measures against the coronavirus in Mumbai, India, March 18, 2020.  - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Amid the exponentially growing number of coronavirus cases across the world, India has reported a very low number. So far, the Health Ministry has confirmed that 271 people have tested positive for the virus, which is considered miniscule given the raging pandemic in other countries.

Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) - Asia's biggest medical research institute - has claimed that the number of coronavirus cases could be much higher than those revealed by the Indian authorities.

Explaining the reason behind his assumption, Guleria told Sputnik that the number of cases reported by the government only displays those who have been tested at special labs; however, the people with whom they have come in contact are still out there. 

"They might have self-quarantined themselves or might be roaming around in public. There are chances of them spreading the virus by coming in contact with others. So, the exact number of cases can't be estimated..." Guleria said.

Expressing serious concern over the perceived laxity by people, Guleria stated that the next 10-15 days are really crucial for the country and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take serious measure to contain the virus.

"I'm amazed to see people still roaming around and in social gatherings when the country is in a crisis state. It can spread from one human to another quickly. I'm shocked that people do not care about their health, families and society", Guleria told Sputnik. 

Talking about the need for a "Janta (public) Curfew", which was announced by Modi for Sunday, Guleria said that if the government doesn't enforce the curfew, people won't listen to the continuous requests made by the authorities and doctors to avoid going out in public.

"At this hour keeping yourself covered and sanitized is very important. Keeping ourselves inside is the need of the hour however people are not following it. I think the authorities should be stricter and take action against those violating the orders and even running away from the quarantine", the director of the AIIMS added.

The ignorance of the severity of the pandemic is evident from several cases during the past few days when dozens of patients suspected of carrying COVID-19 have reportedly fled from a hospital in Navi Mumbai, Mengaluru, and some other parts of the country. 

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Shocking negligence also came into the fore on Friday when famous Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor did not follow the guidelines while returning from the virus-hit UK, as she reportedly concealed her travel history from the authorities.

Kanika confirmed on Friday that she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. But before that, she celebrated the colour festival and partied with hundreds of people, including senior lawmakers. Now, several lawmakers have quarantined themselves, fearing they might have been infected with the virus.

The AIIMS director also requested people not to believe in any sort of myths or rumours and to strictly follow the guidelines and orders issued by the authorities.

"Despite being well pre prepared to fight the virus, it's individual responsibility as well. So keep your face covered and keep washing your hands and stay inside", Guleria said.

The virus is spreading like wildfire and has claimed four lives in India, while over 271 have tested positive.

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