New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: With a decline in active coronavirus cases in India, a government-led panel on Sunday asserted that the pandemic could be "brought under control by early next year". However, it has warned that relaxations in safety measures during the festive season can lead to a COVID spike in the country.

The 10-member panel on Sunday presented its report and warned that coronavirus cases could rise of up to 26 lakh cases per month if safety measures and other norms are not followed. It, however, noted that the pandemic could be controlled by February next year and recommended no fresh lockdowns should be imposed on district or state level to contain the spread of COVID-19 unless "there is an imminent danger of healthcare facilities being overwhelmed".

"If all of us follow these protocols, the pandemic can be controlled by early next year with minimal active symptomatic infections by February-end. We do not yet know the weather-specific perturbations of this pandemic (in general, viruses tend to be more active in colder environment) and the effects of possible future mutations in the virus," said the panel chaired by IIT Hyderabad professor M Vidyasagar.

Talking about the coronavirus-induced lockdown that was imposed by the central government on March 24, the panel said that it pushed the peak of cases far into the future, noting that the death toll in India would have crossed 26 lakhs-mark without the lockdown.

"With no lockdown, the pandemic would have hit India very hard, with a peak load of over 140 lakh cases arriving in June. Given our lack of preparedness back then, the healthcare system would have been overwhelmed, leading to many additional deaths. Had India waited until May to impose the lockdown, the peak load of active cases would have been around 50 lakhs by June," the panel report said.

"India has one-sixth of the world's population (one-fifth excluding China), and one-sixth of the reported cases. However, India accounts for only 10 pc of the world's deaths, and its case fatality rate of less than 2 pc is among the lowest in the world," it noted.

India is the second worst hit nation in terms of COVID-19 cases after the US. The novel infection has affected nearly 75 lakh people in India and claimed 1.14 lakh lives. However, over 65 lakh people have also recovered from the virus, pushing the recovery rate to 88.03 per cent.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma