VK Paul, the head of the national task force on coronavirus management, on Thursday predicted an increase in the number of cases in the coming days and said Indians would continue to be susceptible to the virus. With its total number of cases nearing 2.9 lakh, India now has fewer infections than only the United States, Brazil, Russia, and United Kingdom, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

On whether there is mismanagement in hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai, two of the worst affected cities in the country, Paul told News18 that India has sufficient facilities but patients were finding it difficult to access these facilities. “We are facing significant number of cases in some cities and this was accepted and we have to be ready to face such situations in other parts of the country as well,” he said. “I think there is a need to ensure facilities earmarked should be made available. I believe we have enough facilities. The ease with which citizens can access facilities should be worked on.”

He added: “The interface with people is important. We have to have a proper functioning helpline and not one that gives the same answer to the people. There is a communication gap that needs to be taken care of.” Paul, also a Niti Aayog member and a paediatrician, suggested that authorities should develop a dashboard so that people can check the availability of beds in Mumbai.

He added that India would soon start recording a daily rise of 10,000 cases. Over the past week, India has reported more than 9,500 new cases every day, and on Friday, it recorded over 10,000 new cases for the first time. Paul said that while the pandemic was being managed, India continued to be susceptible. “Different geographies can experience escalation of cases and we have to be ready as a society,” he said. “No choice but to move together in unison...And the pandemic in India is moving in different stages in different geographies. The disease is mild but we have a long way to go.”

Paul also said that only high-risk contacts of patients who are asymptomatic should be tested. “We can’t waste resources on testing everyone,” he claimed. “It is not needed.”

At a press conference on Thursday, Paul said India was doing “pretty well” in tackling the coronavirus spread, PTI reported. “I don’t think the approach is different, all nations are grappling with balancing priorities of maintaining reasonable life balance with how much suppression you can ensure on the spread of the disease and I think India is doing pretty well,” he said. “The nation has demonstrated that this can be contained, this can be lessened, this can be suppressed and together the nation will win this war.”

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