No fresh lockdowns recommended at local level: Government-appointed panel on COVID-19

The 10-member panel which conducted a study on "Progression of the COVID-19 Pandemic in India: Prognosis and Lockdown Impacts" has pointed out that with no lockdown, the pandemic would have hit India very hard with a peak load of over 1.40 crore c...

Reuters
The committee has recommended that the existing personal safety protocols need to continue in full measure, otherwise the country will see a sharp rise in infections.
Hyderabad: A committee of experts appointed by the Department of Science and Technology has advised the Centre not to impose fresh lockdowns unless there are imminent dangers to the healthcare system, while cautioning the government on the likely mutations in Covid-19 in the upcoming festive season coupled with winter.

The panel favoured continuing existing personal safety protocols in full measure towards resuming economic activity and revival of growth.

Disclosing the observations of the committee of experts based on a mathematical model to project the course of the pandemic, its chairman Prof M Vidyasagar of IIT Hyderabad viewed that India can contain Covid-19 by February next year with current safety protocols.


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The DST had constituted the committee on June 1, comprising eminent scientists and academicians to evolve a national supermodel for Covid-19 progression with a mandate to create an evidence-based mathematical model. The committee took inputs from various groups working in the domain in India and used it to analyse past events and future trajectories of the pandemic.

The supermodel is based on various parameters such as the timing of lockdown, alternative lockdown scenarios, impact of migrant workers returning to their homes, and the future course of the pandemic including the impact of not following safety protocols.
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Addressing the media through a virtual conference on Sunday afternoon, Vidyasagar said keeping in view the weather-specific perturbations of the pandemic and the effects of possible future mutations in the virus in the winter and upcoming festivals, the panel strongly recommended that “the existing personal safety protocols need to continue in full measure. Otherwise we will see a sharp rise in infections".

Favouring the lifting of lockdowns for resuming economic activity and revival of growth, the panel said, “Fresh lockdowns should not be imposed on district and statewide levels, unless there is imminent danger of the healthcare facilities being overwhelmed.”

The committee backed the timing of the lockdowns declared by the Centre and viewed that based on temporal profiles of analyses done for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, “the impact of labour migration on the total number of infections in these states was minimal. This observation indicates the success of quarantine strategies adopted for the returning migrants”.

The expert committee also said the peak load of active cases would have touched 50 lakh by June had India waited until May to impose the nationwide lockdown.
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The peak of active cases came in late September at around 10 lakh. Further, the prompt imposition of the lockdown on March 24 has resulted in deaths being around 1 lakh so far, which otherwise would have reached around 10 lakh had the lockdown been imposed in May, the panel noted.

“Therefore, the imposition of an early and comprehensive lockdown pushed the peak of cases far into the future and also reduced the peak load on the system. In short, the lockdown ‘flattened the curve’,” the committee said in its findings, which are set to be published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research on Tuesday.
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