India averted 29 lakh cases, 78,000 deaths with first two lockdowns: Govt

Case growth rate dropped from 23 per cent on April 3 to 5.4 per cent on May 22

India averted 29 lakh cases, 78,000 deaths with first two lockdowns: Govt

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22

The Union Government, on Friday, said lockdowns were the right way forward towards COVID-19 management and claimed that India had averted up to 29 lakh cases and 78,000 deaths due to the first two spells of the lockdown, that ended on May 15.

Sharing the details of mathematical modelling studies, which the Ministry of Health ordered to assess the public health impact of lockdown one and two, NITI Ayog Member Health VK Paul, on Friday, said: “Broad ranges covering the estimates of lockdown impact by multiple models we got done show that we averted 14 to 29 lakh cases and 37,000 to 78,000 deaths.”

The government shared the average prediction of five sets of modelling it commissioned to understand if the lockdowns helped. The assessment covered the period until May 15.

Going forward, the Ministry of Health said a balanced approach towards the COVID-19 causing SARS-CoV-2 virus was the way forward.

“The lockdown is being gradually eased but we need to be very cautious. We cannot afford to relax. The virus is around and we have to take the measures we know will prevent it from growing. We have to wear masks, practise hand and respiratory hygiene, maintain one-metre distance and ensure care for the elderly,” Paul said, asking people to be wary of the potential of the virus to grow mathematically.

We have to create the headwinds needed to ensure the virus doesn’t grow, he added.

The Ministry also said the peak of COVID cases couldn’t be fitted in any plain equation because the future growth of the disease would depend not only on how the virus grew but also on how the community behaved and how we as a society created resistance for the virus.

Paul said India had changed its behaviour and must now sustain that change.

On the positive side, the NITI Ayog official said the pandemic was concentrated in a few urban pockets in terms of both active cases and deaths.

Around 80 per cent cases are in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and MP; and 60 per cent active cases are in five cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Thane.

Deaths are also similarly concentrated in urban areas.

Paul, however, added that efforts were underway to protect the transmission of the disease in rural areas where the virus hadn’t reached yet.

He cautioned the state governments against laxity towards migrants that were returning home.

The government also said the lockdown success laid in the fact that case growth rate (24 hour surge in cases) had dropped from 23 per cent on April 3 to 5.4 per cent on Friday.

Fatalities had also significantly dropped over the same period, VK Paul said.

The NITI Aayog member health added that he never projected zero cases until May 15 and had earlier only said the disease graph had slowed.

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