The impact of the pandemic is different in different parts of India, he adds
United Nations: A look at the coronavirus trends shows that the pandemic has been brewing and boiling rather than exploding in India. While in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany and UK, the peak of the pandemic occurred within weeks of the national lockdown. In India, however, 90 days have passed since the lockdown was imposed, but the peak has not yet come.
According to WHO expert Michael Ryan, the doubling time of the coronavirus cases in India is about three weeks at this stage. However, Ryan, who is WHO's Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director, said the disease has not "exploded" in India, but the risk of that happening remains as the country moves towards unlocking its lockdown.
So the direction of travel of the epidemic is not exponential but it is still growing, he said, adding that the impact of the pandemic is different in different parts of India and varies between urban and rural settings.
In South Asia, not just in India but in Bangladesh and...in Pakistan, other countries in South Asia, with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded. But there is always the risk of that happening," Ryan said in Geneva on Friday.
He stressed that as the disease generates and creates a foothold in communities, it can accelerate at any time as has been seen in a number of settings.
Ryan noted that measures taken in India such as the nationwide lockdown have had an impact in slowing transmission but the risk of an increase in cases looms as the country opens up.
The measures taken in India certainly had an impact in dampening transmission and as India, as in other large countries, open up and as people begin to move again, there's always a risk of the disease bouncing back up," he said.
He added that there are specific issues in India regarding the large amount of migration, the dense populations in the urban environment and the fact that many workers have no choice but to go to work every day.
India went past Italy to become the sixth worst-hit nation by the COVID-19 pandemic. India saw a record single-day jump of 9,887 coronavirus cases and 294 deaths on Saturday, pushing the nationwide infection tally to 2,36,657 and the death toll to 6,642, according to the health ministry.
The lockdown in India, was first clamped on March 25 and spanned for 21 days, while the second phase of the curbs began on April 15 and stretched for 19 days till May 3. The third phase of the lockdown was in effect for 14 days and ended on May 17. The fourth phase ended on May 31. The country had registered 512 coronavirus infection cases till March 24.
The nation-wide lockdown in containment zones will continue till June 30 in India but extensive relaxations in a phased manner from June 8 are listed in the Union Home Ministry's fresh guidelines on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic issued last week.