Govt Says Lockdown Can't Continue Forever, Its Purpose Has Been Achieved

Sneha Mordani

New Delhi: 'A lockdown can't go on forever, it is meant for a purpose we have achieved to a very large extent. The lockdown allowed us to avoid an exponential rise in cases and line up our resources to tackle the pandemic in a much better way,' said Dr VK Paul, member of Niti Aayog and and head of the national task force on COVID-19 management. This on a day the country saw a single day wise spike of over 6000 cases, the highest ever.

Detailing on what the lockdown has achieved, the government on Friday elaborated mathematical studies that show that if the lockdown had not been imposed, India would have reported lakhs of cases and as many deaths.

'According to scientists about 15.9 lakh cases and 51,000 deaths have been averted, our own estimates show that 20 lakh cases have been averted,' said Praveen Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation.

Two independent economists, the government says have indicated that India's imposition of a lockdown when we had 555 cases in the country has averted 23 lakh cases and 68,000 deaths. ‘Cases averted is also an indication of how many infections we have further averted,' Dr VK Paul told CNN-News18. On an average of the 14 to 29 lakh cases have been averted, looking at all the mathematical models studied, 37,000 to 78,000 deaths have been averted.

Before a lockdown, the growth rate of the infection stood at 22 percent. It is down to 5.5% now. India’s doubling time, the number of days it takes for cases to double has slowed from 3 days to 13.5 days. ‘It had even reached 17 days once,’ said Paul. The growth of cases before the lockdown was exponential the government says. The exponential growth now is limited to certain pockets like Maharasthra.

The government also said the outbreak has been limited to some areas. Over 80 percent of cases are limited to five states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. Here, cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Thane and Ahmedabad are the worst hit.

Deaths also are concentrated in pockets -- over 80% in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi.

Nearly 60% in 5 Cities Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi and Kolkata

Detailing on India’s achievements during this time of two months, Paul said healthcare and frontline workers gained experience and confidence clinical management experience was gained during this period, low mortality sustained and wait for potential drugs, treatments and vaccine shortened. India’s surveillance was also strengthened.