India missed early warning, deadly spread of coronavirus – health experts

A seasoned public health expert warned leading Indian officials in early March that a new variant of coronavirus is spreading rapidly in a rural district in the heart of the country and that the outbreak requires urgency. Federal health officials would not have responded adequately to this warning, said Dr. Subhash Salunke, who has 30 years of public health experience in India, Indonesia and the United States, told Reuters. The catastrophic wave of coronavirus cases in India has since spread to more than 40 countries. In May the World Health Organization (WHO) called it a “questionable variant” and pointed to its high transferability. The variant’s first effects were noted months earlier in the Amravati district of western Maharashtra state, where health officials recorded a rapid spike in coronavirus infections in early February, although cases were falling. Salunke, a former WHO official advising the Maharashtra government, said he alerted some of India’s leading health officials in early March by speaking with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s best coronavirus advisor, V. Paul, and the head of the National Center for Disease Control Phoned (NCDC), Sujeet Kumar Singh.

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