Lockdown has been part and parcel of the overall strategy, along with physical distancing and complementary decision for mobilising state governments and people at large. This big decision to shut down for a finite period of time was taken to make sure that the transmission chain of virus is controlled and hammered to the extent possible and that time is gained to respond in upcoming times with much higher level of preparedness. This decision was implemented by the people of India very effectively, he further stated.
He also said, “No. of COVID-19 cases averted due to lockdown is in range of 14 – 29 lakh. No. of lives saved is in the range of 37,000 – 78,000. We are fully confident that lockdown, with full public cooperation, has reaped rich dividends. Lockdown has mostly achieved its purpose, but it cannot be continued for unlimited time; we need to behave in a manner which makes it difficult for coronavirus to spread. This is the way forward”.
Presenting some graphical analysis about the effects of lockdown till May 15, Dr. Paul also briefed that summary of various estimates made by independent experts show that around 20 lakh COVID-19 cases and 54,000 deaths have been averted due to the lockdown.
He also said, the time the nation got for preparedness due to lockdown has been utilized very well to face the challenge and surmount it. The clinical experience gained during COVID-19 has given us confidence in patient management and in navigating the road ahead. Due to lockdown, we have been able to control infection, keep mortality low and prepare better.
Responding to a media query on the expected number of COVID-19 cases in the days ahead, the Chairman, Empowered Group I said: “Real growth trajectory of the novel coronavirus depends not only on the mathematics of the spread of infection, but also on the behaviour of community and society. How we respond cannot be put into a model / equation, we can only make some guesses. Hence it is difficult to predict. Some epidemiologists however, estimate high numbers as well. However, we have not done this estimate, what we have to say is that we will take required actions and control the infection to the maximum extent possible.”
Praveen Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation presented results of models by various experts: The Boston Consulting Group took two approaches based on analysis of reproduction rate of COVID-19. Their study shows that in absence of lockdown, there would have been 36 – 70 lakh cases more and lockdown has saved between 1.2 lakh to 2.1 lakh lives.