CNN  — 

Less than a month ago, India’s future looked dire.

Experts predicted that the country could expect millions of coronavirus cases. Doctors warned that India needed to prepare for an onslaught of cases that could cripple the country’s ill-equipped health system. Onlookers worried that the virus could spread like wildfire through India’s slums, where residents live in cramped quarters and basic sanitation often isn’t available.

But so far, the world’s second-most populous country appears to have avoided the worst.

As of Tuesday, India had reported 31,360 coronavirus cases and 1,008 deaths, or about 0.76 deaths per million. Compare that to the United States, where the number of deaths per million is more than 175.

Some experts say that India’s relatively positive numbers suggest the country’s nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of Covid-19 could be working – for now.

A senior citizen watches Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi address the nation on a television broadcast during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown on April 14, 2020.

“India didn’t wait for the problem to escalate,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on April 14, as he extended the country’s 21-day nationwide lockdown until May 3. “Instead, as soon as the problem appeared, we tried to stop it by making swift decisions. I can’t imagine what the situation would have been had such quick decisions not been taken.”

But the reality behind India’s numbers is more complicated – and experts caution that it is too early for India to congratulate itself.

“At least in this round, it appears that the virus has not been able to damage as much as been feared,” Srinath Reddy, the president of the Public Health Foundation of India, a nonprofit that works on training, research and policy development. “I don’t think we can say that we have completely closed the book on this.”

How swift were Modi’s decisions?

On March 24, Modi announced that the country was going into a three-week lockdown.

The scale of it was unprecedented. India has a population of 1.3 billion, and the only country with a bigger population – China – had imposed citywide lockdowns, but never a nationwide one.

It was a high-stakes decision. Going into lockdown meant millions of daily-wage workers would be deprived of an income. But not imposing a lockdown risked overwhelming India’s health care system. One model estimated that without social distancing measures, about 150 million people in India would be infected by June. On Friday, India’s top p