Epidemiologists at the National Institute of Epidemiology (NIE) in Chennai have projected that fresh daily cases of COVID-19 in Chennai could touch 19,000 by May 15, if the infection rate in the city does not decrease. The projection is done based on the present rate of reproduction of coronavirus in the city — r-naught, which is at 1.3. S Manikanda Nesan, an epidemiologist at the NIE tweeted his analysis on April 23, urging the city’s residents to mask up and prove the model wrong. According to the model, the city could have around 1.25 lakh persons under treatment for the virus by May 15, if one goes by the projections. At present, Chennai reports over 3,500 new cases of COVID-19 in a day. The projection also aligns with the forecasts made by Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Michigan, for India. In an interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Bhramar Mukherjee said that by the beginning of May, the number of fresh COVID-19 cases in India could go upto 5 lakh per day and the number of deaths due to the disease could go up to 3,000 every day. She also said that when the infection reaches a peak in the middle of May, the number of daily reported cases in India could be between 8 lakh and 10 lakh and the number of deaths could be around 4,500. Meanwhile, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle, projects the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in India at the peak in May at around 5,500. According to experts at the NIE, basic etiquettes like wearing face masks, avoiding in-person meetings and dining in restaurants and encouraging vaccination are the only ways to arrest the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. “The model is done based on the number of new COVID-19 cases in the past few days. Vaccination is underway too, hence the projection of 19,000 cases does include the vaccination rate as at present. However, if the rate of vaccination undergoes a change in the coming days, the projection will obviously change too,” an epidemiologist from NIE told TNM under the condition of anonymity. The expert added that the projection was done for a short period of time since there is a possibility of change in the virus reproduction rate, which will lead to a change in the projected numbers as well.