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Coronavirus: India needs 49-day lockdown, not 21, say Cambridge researchers

Coronavirus lockdown: The first scenario is the current 21-day lockdown. While it reduces the rate of infectives, it does not do much when it comes to reducing their number in order to prevent a resurgence

Anwesha Madhukalya   New Delhi     Last Updated: March 30, 2020  | 12:53 IST
Coronavirus: India needs 49-day lockdown, not 21, say Cambridge researchers
Coronavirus news: 21-day lockdown might not be enough, feel researchers

The 21-day lockdown will not be enough to contain the spread of coronavirus in India, according to a study. Instead, the lockdown must be extended to 49 days, say researchers Rajesh Singh and R Adhikari based on their mathematical calculations.

R Adhikari and Rajesh Singh from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in the University of Cambridge say their study is based on the interpretation that the lockdown on March 25, removed all social contacts and confined everyone to their homes. They also acknowledged that this appears to be an "optimistic" interpretation but that it allows them to assess the outcome.

Singh and Adhikari took into account four different control protocols. The first scenario is the current 21-day lockdown. While it reduces the rate of infectives, it does not do much when it comes to reducing their number in order to prevent a resurgence. In this scenario, they found that the probability of a resurgence after the lockdown is pretty high.

In the second scenario, where the 21-day lockdown is followed by a relaxation of 5 days and is followed immediately by another lockdown of 28 days, the researchers found that here also the number of infected do not go down enough to prevent a resurgence.

Scenario three looks at three lockdowns. The first 21-day lockdown is followed by a lockdown of 28 days, which is followed by a lockdown of 18 days. These three lockdowns are separated by 5-day relaxation periods. Singh and Adhikari said, "This brings the number of infective below 10 where explicit contact tracing followed by quarantine may be successful in preventing a resurgence."

Also read: Coronavirus in India Live updates: Total COVID-19 cases soar to 1,173; Maharashtra, Kerala worst affected

Scenario four that appears to be the most optimum advocates for one 49-day long lockdown. It also brings down the number of infectives below 10.

Moreover, Singh and Adhikari have also found that there is a drastic slowdown in the mortality rate from the 21-day period to a 49-day period. In their study, the researchers have said that in the first scenario, the mortality estimates stand at 2,727 in a period of 73 days, while it drops to 11 in scenario two, to eight in scenario three and six in scenario four.

"Our principal conclusion is that the three-week lockdown will be insufficient. Our model suggests sustained periods of lockdown with periodic relaxation will reduce the number of cases to levels where individualised social contact tracing and quarantine may become feasible," they stated.

Also read: Coronavirus scare: Foreign tourist arrivals hit record low in February

Also read: Coronavirus: Govt denies lockdown extension, says 'no such plan'

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