Govt Says Timely Lockdown Decision Averted 14-18 Lakh Covid-19 Cases and Up to 78,000 Deaths

The nationwide lockdown imposed since March 25 averted 14-18 lakh cases and between 37,000 to 78,000 deaths, the central government claimed on Friday on the basis of three mathematical models. Government officials, though, did not get into the details of how these models were designed and what were the assumptions based on.

The government also said that the lockdown was limited only to urban areas and regions and that 60% of the cases were reported from just five cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Thane – and 80% of cases were from just five states – Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.

“According to some retired scientists, about 15.9 lakh cases, 51,000 deaths have been averted. Our ministry worked with Indian Statistical Institute and found that 20 lakh cases were averted,” said Praveen Srivastava, secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

The government presented three mathematical models prepared by the Boston Consulting Group, Public Health Foundation of India and independent economists, respectively.

“The lockdown decision was early, timely and it was taken before the situation deteriorated. Many countries took this decision late. It was a calibrated response by our government. It was a pre-emptive decision, not taken in isolation and part of our overall strategy,” said Dr VK Paul, member of the Niti Aayog and chairman of the government-constituted high-level committee of public-health experts for Covid-19.

Dr Paul said that the growth rate of the cases has come down during the lockdown period from 22% to 5% while the doubling time has gone up to 13 days from 3 days, seen prior to the lockdown.

During the government’s briefing on Friday, responding to a question on an earlier official graph that showed the possibility of new cases dropping to zero from May 16, Dr Paul said, “The situation at that time was that cases were slowing. It was a mathematical trend line, you check the transcript, I never said cases will be zero. Neither the graph nor my speech mentioned that the cases will be zero, please let it be clarified. I want to clear this and if there was any misunderstanding, I want to apologise."

Even as the government claimed growth of cases has dropped, cases recorded per day have increased with the increase in testing of samples. Since yesterday, the country has seen 6088 cases in 24 hours, which is the highest number of cases recorded in a single-day. The cumulative confirmed cases in the country are 1,18,447, active cases as of now are 66,330 and the country has recorded 3583 deaths. Also, so far, a total of 48,533 people have been cured. In the last 24 hours, 3234 patients were found cured. This takes India’s total recovery rate at 40.98%.