New Delhi: Medical experts who are in the forefront of probing the Covid-19 spread in India are working at speed to ensure that the epidemic does not “explode” in the country in the coming days. They are worried that people have still not realised the gravity of the situation that the country is facing.

These experts told The Sunday Guardian that though Covid-19, as of now, has not started spreading through community transmission, that situation is likely to change in days if people do not practice social distancing.

“People are still seeing this as a paid holiday. We are getting reports that people are mingling with their friends and relatives. The price of this carelessness will be very big,” a Delhi-based expert who has been probing Covid-19 samples for the last 45 plus days told The Sunday Guardian.

As of 9 a.m. on Saturday, as per data put out by the Union Ministry of Health, out of 285 cases, 22 were discharged and cured of the virus across India, four have died, while 231 people still remained active. The experts warned that the time for “sugar coating” the massive impact of not following social distancing was over. India had reported its first case on 30 January.

“We do not have beds to treat even 1% of Delhi’s population if they fall ill at the same time. If Covid-19 starts spreading in the community, the only option that the government will have is to make sure that patients stay inside their homes. We simply do not have the resources to treat even 1 lakh people if they fall ill at the same time. (The population of Delhi is over 2 crore.) That is why people need to be told that their lives and the lives of the people around them are in their hands. We will not be able to help them once the disease breaks,” said an official with AIIMS, Delhi. As per the Economic Survey of Delhi 2018-2019, the total number of hospital beds in Delhi was not even 1 lakh. As per the survey, the total number of beds was 57,194, with 29,301 or more than half of the total beds being with private hospitals.

This perhaps explains Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s path-breaking request to people to follow social distancing and imposing “Janta Curfew”, as saying it directly that health resources in India is not sufficient enough to deal with the outbreak of this disease would have caused hysteria and panic.

Experts said that people with history of foreign travel were still intermingling within the community. Many are escaping quarantine or simply have hidden their travel history. Experts said that it was very much possible that many of the infected had not come out in the “open” as they themselves were unsure of being infected with Covid-19.

“The government cannot enter every house to check temperatures or stop them from meeting friends and relatives. If someone with a fever had a paracetamol so that he could escape temperature screening, he or she has now already intermingled with the people around him or her. We are expecting that the number of Covid-19 cases in India will climb in the coming days. The government is trying its best, but people, in general, must adhere to social distancing,” the expert added.