lockdown after a ban on international air traffic helped India limit Covid-19 cases, which otherwise could have ballooned to over one lakh by now, the government said on Friday, highlighting that the situation was under control with close to 25,000 positive cases and the doubling rate now touching 10 days over the last three days.
The lockdown and early measures such as travel restrictions and active screening of international passengers at airports, followed by surveillance and contact tracing which covered close to 9,50,000 people, was the result of a strong network coordinated by the
National Centre of Disease Control with states, Niti Aayog member V K Paul said.
He added that while the full effects of the lockdown became evident from April 6 onwards, they will continue to be seen till mid-May.
Citing data analysis by independent researchers as well as official data of the health ministry, Dr Paul, who also heads an empowered committee on emergency response, said there were two key turning points — March 23 and April 6 — when the impact of the measures taken by the government started showing. The first date was just ahead of the lockdown coming into force after the March 22 janata curfew. Some of the charts have been placed on Twitter by Shamika Ravi, former member of the PM’s economic advisory council.
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Dr Paul said the big decision of imposing the nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister
Narendra Modi “proved to be very timely and beneficial” as shown by the change in the growth trajectory of India’s Covid-19 cases. “The curve has begun to flatten. Had we not taken the decision of clamping the nationwide lockdown, we would have had around one lakh Covid-19 cases by now, as per a reasonable estimate. Now, the outbreak is under control,” he said.
“If we go back to March 21, cases were doubling in around three days. An important turn came on March 23… The direction changed and the doubling rate increased to around five. By then, we had already put in place travel restrictions and had created an environment of social distancing. So, the results were led by these measures,” Dr Paul said. He, however, did not spell out the measures that would be in place after May 3 when the lockdown is scheduled to end.
In an apparent reference to the movement of migrant workers immediately after the imposition of lockdown and the spread caused by members of the
Tablighi Jamaat who dispersed across the country, Dr Paul said there were some disturbances in between and India went back a little. “But from April 6, the doubling time started improving again. This was when the impact of the lockdown started showing after taking into account the incubation period of 14 days,” he said.
According to data presented by the NCDC, the doubling time of positive cases moved from 5.2 days during March 24-30 to 4.2 during March 31-April 6 and to 8.6 during April 14-20. Dr Paul said in the last three days, the average doubling rate had improved further to 10 days.
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Meanwhile, many districts have joined the list of areas without any fresh Covid-19 case in 28 days and 14 days, respectively. Health ministry joint secretary
Lav Agarwal said in the last 28 days, as many as 15 districts had no new case, whereas 80 districts had not reported any new
coronavirus case in the last 14 days.
He also said in the 24-hour period since Thursday morning, 1,684 Covid-19 positive cases were reported, taking the total of confirmed cases to 23,077.
“A total of 4,748 people, which is 20.57% of the total number of cases, have been cured so far,” Agarwal said.