The world has offered India a warning against complacency in dealing with the novel coronavirus outbreak, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted today. Referring to the speed with which the number of COVID-19 cases have doubled worldwide - 100,000 cases were reported in the past 12 days - Mr Tharoor said "India's cases may be about to accelerate at comparable speed".
Coronavirus cases in India crossed 300 today; Friday saw 63 cases and the largest single-day jump since the outbreak began. In the past six days 164 new cases have been reported.
Globally the number of cases are nearing 2.5 lakh according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the death toll approaching 10,000.
"It took three months to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 only took 12 days. India's cases may be just about to accelerate at comparable speed," Mr Tharoor tweeted.
"Please be careful everyone!" the Thiruvananthapuram MP added.
The world offers us a warning against complacency. It took three months to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 only took 12 days. India's cases may be just about to accelerate at comparable speed. Please be careful everyone! #Covid19India— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 21, 2020
Experts have expressed concern over the low rate of testing in the country, which they believe masks the true scale of the outbreak. They also fear that low testing levels hide the possibility of community transmission, which will see an exponential growth in number of cases.
The government has denied the number of cases are being underreported and said they are reluctant to conduct mass testing, like South Korea and Japan have done, because it could "create panic". It has also said the World Health Organisation's directive of "test, test, test" does not apply to India.
Many, however, are still unconvinced.
Speaking to NDTV Dr Arvind Kumar of Delhi's Sri Ganga Ram Hospital said: "People who think we are still in Stage 2 have shut their eyes to reality. The infection is simmering in the community and is waiting to explode".
"If you track the numbers over the past 10 days, first we had a few cases and no deaths. Now, in the last 24 hours, at least 70 cases added. This is reflective of a large volume of cases that have not yet been discovered," Dr Kumar said.
The government has stepped up measures to contain the spread of the virus, including shutting down international borders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a "janata (public) curfew" on Sunday to urge people to practice social distancing.
State governments have responded by shutting down public spaces like shopping malls, cinemas and educational institutions, as well as imposing Section 144 in order to ban large gatherings.
The COVID-19 pandemic originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year. Since then it has spread to over 150 countries around the world with Europe emerging as the new epicentre.