On 31st December 2019, the world came to know about COVID-19. Since then the disease has infected lakhs of people and caused thousands of deaths across the world. Just as the WHO declared it as a pandemic, countries across the world started to employ various strategies to contain this disease. The Indian government had declared a 21-day countrywide lockdown and the entire country is waiting with bated breath to see which model will be employed for containment.
It is worth noting that India responded early to the crisis. It restricted foreign travel, screened at airports, and sealed its borders well in time. Due to these precautionary measures, we were able to delay the onset of the disease in India. When the disease did raise its head in India, we were able to do effective contact tracing. When it felt like clusters of cases were appearing, the government wasted no time in imposing a lockdown. While there is sufficient concern around the unorganised migrant labourers and lack of adequate testing, one cannot discount the early sound steps taken by the government and the cooperation that its citizens have extended to it. We have been able to bring the doubling rate of the virus down to 7 days. If there was no lockdown, epidemiologists estimate that at least 53,000 would have been affected right now as opposed to the 9,000 odd people that are in fact affected.
Officially we have entered into second period of lockdown till May 3 rd, we know that our country, being an economically weak one, cannot have a complete lockdown for more time. Yet, the need to have a containment strategy is paramount. In different parts of the world, different containment strategies have been used. While Singapore and Hongkong did not use a very stringent containment strategy due to their 2002-2003 SARS outbreak experience they were able to keep it under control. China, on the other hand, went in for a very stringent lockdown model which was effective in containing the disease.
India is a democratic country where we cannot impose stringent lockdown restrictions especially since there are very severe economic consequences to a lockdown. At this juncture, it is very apparent that India is using its vast experience in public health. ICMR has conducted various studies to understand the spread of the disease apart from the COVID-19 tests going on. While we know how other countries are using different containment strategies, we also have successful examples in the way Bhilwara in Rajasthan and Kasargod in Kerala have stymied the spread of the virus.