Why India so far seems to staved off the coronavirus

temperature check Chennai, India.
(Image credit: ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

The jury is still out on whether the world's second most populous nation can hold off the coronavirus pandemic, but so far at least, India has kept things at bay, The New York Times reports.

"I have been quite impressed with India," Dr. Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization representative in India, said. "From the onset they've been taking it very seriously."

To date, India only has 125 confirmed cases, which pales in comparison to many of the world's other populous nations. Some of that does seem to be the result of swift action — state authorities, for example, used an onslaught of surveillance techniques to find about 1,000 people who came into contact with a family that returned from Italy in February and quarantined everyone. The government also shut borders, canceled visas, and denied entry to many foreigners, while some states have strengthened internal borders and screened passengers in cars and trains, per the Times.

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At the same time, experts worry the number of cases is actually much higher because of limited testing, and not everyone is sure the government responded in a timely fashion, especially because people are still out and about in major cities like New Delhi. "The challenge of a large country like India with overcrowding is that some people will always slip the net, wherever you put it," said Dipanjan Roy, an Indian epidemiologist, who added that not putting harsher quarantines into effect even earlier may have cost the country.

Still, some experts are hopeful that India has a few other advantages up its sleeve, including the normally-frowned-upon prevalence of antibiotics dispensed without a prescription, the country's youthful demographics, increased testing, and the unproven possibility of warm weather halting the virus. Read more at The New York Times.

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