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CoronaVirus: Lockdown is impactful for longer term, said ICMR

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The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said that the countrywide lockdown will have a longlasting impact on the health of the nation. It also hints travel ban as less effective for short and medium terms. ICMR described lockdown as a “drastic public health measure” which can lead to “long-lasting adverse health outcomes.”

According to a study by ICMR, an organization working in the field of medical research, the total number of cases in the country would be around 14 lakh, if the lockdown had not been announced. Lockdown is the reason for this less number of coronavirus cases.Total infected cases is less than 6000 till now. More than 80% of the total cases are confined to only 78 districts of the country.

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The review paper recommended against “coercive top-down quarantine approaches, which are driven by the authorities” and urges for “community and civil-society led self-quarantine and self-monitoring that could emerge as more sustainable and implementable strategies in a protracted pandemic like COVID.”

The piece, however, was written before February 29, when India was yet to announce the suspension of new visas, compulsory screening of all international passengers and the eventual lockdown from March 25. Though India had recorded its first cases on January 30, a steady, discernible escalation of confirmed new cases had begun only from March 3.

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The review paper also didn’t appear to be a votary of travel bans. “The medium and long-term impact of such travel bans remain to be seen but modelling studies suggest that in the short-term, these are unlikely to have meaningful impact on global transmission of SARS-CoV-2, unless sustained 90 per cent travel restrictions are implemented in combination with more than 50 per cent reduction in local transmission. Such bans may only provide a symbolic shield unless the ongoing outbreak is staunched. Ethical concerns of imposing such travel bans have also been questioned,” it said.

For their view on bans, the paper cited evidence from a study in the Lancet and another paper, which was still being reviewed, at the time this paper was written. Their assertions also appeared to rest heavily on the experience of measures in Wuhan, China.

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According to the format, if the lockdown had not been done, India’s condition would have been similar to Italy today. The ICMR estimate is based on the principle of R0–2.5. According to this theory, if a lockdown is not done, a person affected by the corona can infect 406 people. Whereas due to the lockdown, its capacity remains only to infect 2.5 people.

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