NEW DELHI: On a day India saw yet another highest overnight spike of COVID-19 cases, the Centre maintained that a large number of deaths and cases may have been averted due to two versions of the nationwide lockdown that lasted five weeks.
Dr V K Paul, member (health) Niti Aayog, who also heads the national task force on COVID-19 management, said that different disease estimate models show that an additional 37,000-78,000 deaths and 14-29 lakh cases would have been averted during the measures enforced in these weeks.
“The lockdown allowed us to avoid an exponential rise in cases and line up our resources to tackle the pandemic in a much better way,” he said in a briefing on Friday.
The models cited in the briefing included the ones prepared by the Boston Consultancy Group, Public Health Foundation of India, Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation and some independent researchers.
“While the gains of the lockdown have been that a large number of deaths and cases have been averted, it also meant that much fewer people spread the infection,” said Dr Paul.
“It also allowed us to create huge COVID-19 specific health infrastructure, develop the capacity of healthcare workers, ensure increase in supplies, equipment and oxygen and step up our research and development efforts,” he said.
Underlining that the outbreak has been limited to some areas, a presentation by him highlighted that over 80 per cent coronavirus cases are limited to five states — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. 60 per cent cases are from just five cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Thane.
Paul however warned that the fight against COVID-19 is going to be a long haul and its progress in India will depend not just on the behaviour of the virus but also containment measures at the government, community and individual level.
The declaration comes as the country’s total case tally reached 1,18, 447, with a rise of 6,088 cases in 24 hours. A total of 3,583 patients have succumbed to the infection.
Paul also stressed that early detection of cases, effective contact tracing and testing would be the key to keep the COVID-19 cases and deaths under control in the coming days as the lockdown is now being relaxed.
“We have been able to keep the cases and mortalities to reasonable rates so far — so the key is to sustain the momentum we have gained as the lockdown measures are gradually eased,” he added. “But we have to understand that the lockdown cannot continue forever.”