NEW DELHI: While the Centre is preparing a roadmap for the next steps after the current phase of lockdown ends on April 14, here is a sobering piece of data: just one coronavirus patient could potentially infect 406 people in 30 days if the person does not practice social distancing. On the flip side, the transmission rate can be brought down in a big way if social distancing is studiously followed during the lockdown.
“If we follow proper measures and social distancing, the infection rate can be cut down to just 2.5 people per patient in 30 days,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, citing an ICMR study, which was also the source of the dramatic 406 infections figure.
“The government is adopting a strategy for cluster containment, which is producing positive results, especially in Agra, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Pathanamthitta, Bhilwara and East Delhi,” said Agarwal. But curbing the spread of the infection will become difficult if lockdown measures for social distancing are not followed, he emphasised.
While 352 patients have been discharged after recovering from the infection, the country now has a total 4,421 confirmed coronavirus cases. In the last 24 hours, 354 new cases have been reported and the toll has reached 124 with 15 fatalities since Monday.
In India, the current R0 or R naught — the unit to measure the rate at which a person can infect others — is somewhere between 1.5 and 4.5, the ICMR study said and suggested that the R0 be contained at 2.5, which means the infection rate should not exceed 2.5 persons over a 30-day span.
“Hence, again request you all to follow social distancing. It is a social vaccine in the management of COVID-19,” Agarwal said.
The government, he added, was looking at strengthening dedicated hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 cases and the strategy has been shared with all states.
Many of them are first across the globe. For instance, the caller tune to sensitise citizens about COVID symptoms. “The latest is the containment strategy...with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Even neighbouring countries have borrowed ideas from it,” Dr John said.
“He sees the big picture early in the game and gets an army of people around him to drive towards that goal. One of the most astonishing qualities that set him apart is the values suggestions from a junior-most team member.”
Dr John said he worked with Agarwal for hosting the global digital health partnership summit last year. “...It was mission impossible but with Agarwal in the driver’s seat...it turned out really well...a few of the innovations from that exhibition are being scaled up during the COVID crisis.”
Anil Swarup, a retired bureaucrat, too, was all praise for Agarwal.
“He has shown remarkable maturity in handling the situation. I’m happy he has been assigned such a crucial responsibility.”