New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Friday apologised for the “misconception” caused by a graph released last month that suggested India would have no new Covid-19 cases to report by 16 May.
Released on 24 April, the graph sought to project the benefits of the nationwide lockdown that had kicked in a month earlier, on 25 March.
“I wish for there to be a correction and I apologise for the misconception, but that is not what I had wanted to convey,” Niti Aayog member Dr V.K. Paul said at a press briefing Friday.
Paul had showcased the graph in question during a presentation titled ‘India tackles the Covid-19 outbreak effectively’, at one of the Union health ministry’s coronavirus briefings.
The presentation was heavily criticised on social media, with several people terming the graph unbelievable. At Friday’s briefing, Paul however said “no claim was made” about the number of cases falling to zero.
That graph (in previous tweet, showing 0 new cases in India by May 16) was presented by Niti Aayog member VK Paul
— Navin Kabra (@ngkabra) April 26, 2020
What is the bogus model that generates ZERO new cases by mid-May while the same Empowered Groups predicts 20% CDGR in Mumbai with 650000 cases by mid May. What a travesty in every sense. https://t.co/TMb0SpvMGH
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) April 25, 2020
“The line in the graph was a mathematical trendline, when we show this mathematical data, it is our duty that its basis is shown, this is customary. But check that transcript neither did I say zero, this was all a created perception,” he said.
Predictions gone awry
The graph presented on 24 April seemed to suggest the number of Covid-19 cases would peak by 30 April and a decline would be seen in the first week of May.
“You can see that now, in the second phase of the lockdown, we are in the middle stage and you can see that its effect will be felt in the next 14 to 15 days. So, this will be felt till the second week of May. This shows how the outbreak has been handled,” Paul, who also heads one of the 11 empowered groups (Empowered Group-1) formed by the central government to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in India, had said during the press briefing.
Decision of lockdown was timely, curve has begun to flatten
We need to build on these gains
— PIB India #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) April 24, 2020
By 16 May, however, the number of cases in India had surged to 85,940. Three days later, it crossed the 1-lakh mark. Questions raised over the projections, however, went unanswered at Thursday’s briefing.
Following his clarification Friday, Paul offered a cautious response when asked by how much the case and death count could rise in the coming days.
“The real trajectory is dependent not only in the mathematics with which the virus progresses but also in the behaviour of the community and society and the people at large. This cannot be put into an equation,” he said.
As of Friday, the number of Covid-19 cases in India has risen to 1,18,447, with 48,534 recoveries and 3,583 deaths. During the press briefing, Paul said the incidence of Covid-19 is currently concentrated in a few states and cities. “Around 80 per cent of the cases are in five states and over 60 per cent in five cities. Over 90 per cent of the cases are in 10 states and over 70 per cent in 10 cities,” he said.