As the current phase of nationwide lockdown is about to end on May 31, professor Johan Giesecke, former chief scientist at European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), suggests that the exit strategy should not be sudden, but gradual spanning over several months.
In an interaction with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today, Giesecke said the exit from lockdown should be step wise. "You take one (restriction) away and wait two-three weeks to see what happens. Do we have more spread of the disease? If yes, take one step back and try another restriction. I think it will take months to really ease out the lockdown. But you must do one restriction at a time and see what happens," he said in response to Gandhi's question.
Professor Giesecke also pointed out that none of the countries had an exit strategy in mind when they announced the lockdown to fight the spread and pace of COVID-19. "I've been asking myself if all the countries in Europe that instituted a lockdown one or two months ago considered the exit strategy at that time. I don't think any single country thought about how to get out of it. Now everyone is asking the same question," he said.
As part of his ongoing engagements with global experts, Gandhi also spoke to Prof. Ashish Jha, Professor of Global Health, T.H.Chan School of Public Health and Director Harvard Global Health institute. Prof Jha said that life will never be the same after lockdown ends. "This is not about going back to what life looked like last year in May or June. The life over the next six to 18 months is going to look very different. It is about planning it all," he said.
Jha not only wanted India to communicate its plans, but think through various aspects. "What will public transportation look like, who will go back to work, what will schools do? A lot of work needs to be done during the lockdown," he said.
Gandhi, meanwhile, said he has not been supportive of the complete lockdown. He believes more autonomy should have been given to states to handle the situation. "I don't think there will be one response to this disease. Every state will have its own response to its disease. You can already see that some states are doing better than other states because of their nature, design and political system. I get the sense that the more decentralised states, which have more power closer to the people, will do better," he said.