Have Lockdowns Flattened The COVID-19 Curve?
The COVID-19 pandemic has generated ample measures from the various governments across the world. But, it does not necessarily reflect the appropriateness or effectiveness of a government’s response when compared with the novel coronavirus statistics.
It is well-known that the recent outbreak of novel coronavirus has generated ample measures from the various governments across the world. At first glance, common measures include school closings, workplace closing, cancelling public events, stopping public transport services, banning mobility and travels, both domestic and international, bans on public gatherings, other interventions like fiscal and monetary stimuli and finally lockdown and shutdown (complete lockdown), although in favour of greater common good, to create social distancing to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
These lockdowns and bans have created many economic uncertainties around the world mainly through three channels, viz., decline in consumption, corporate investments and international trade in goods and services. The heterogeneous measures adopted quickly by the governments have been enduring in various debates among the policymakers and public and one of them being the debate with regard to how policy responses in the form of draconian lockdowns are actually going to affect the spread of the disease. Does the centrality of social distancing and severe lockdowns in favour of or against the progression of COVID-19 cases? We have perceived at a global level. We have realised it within countries, as well. To assess this, we see the growth and pattern of three important indicators namely; sample positive cases, prevalence rate – number of positive cases per million population, and case fatality rates – number of deceased cases, across all affected states in India. We ought to expect the stringency of lockdown to broadly track the spread of the disease. Moreover, this policy of lockdown does not necessarily reflect the appropriateness or effectiveness of a government’s response directly with the COVID-19 statistics. The outbreak of coronavirus has disrupted the global economy as a whole and taken a form of worldwide crisis.
Going by WHO estimates (24 April 2020, 05:30 GMT+5:30) around 213 countries were under the grip of the deadly virus, in which 26,26,321 cases were confirmed, and 1,81,938 deaths reported. There were increasing uncertainties, tensions and other problems and policy challenges to address the ongoing crisis.A preliminary glance through the COVID-19 numbers across the country, as appeared in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, indicate that with 519 positive cases and 9 deaths when the lockdown was imposed on March 24, the total number of coronavirus cases in India as on April 24 evening climbed to 23,456, including 4,814 cured and discharged, and 723 deaths, in 34 States and UTs. In fact, the coronavirus cases increased by 41 times and deaths increased by 76 times in a month.
By looking at the prevalence rate across major Indian states, we found that the rate increased manifold during the said one month period. From the beginning of Lockdown 1.0, the COVID-19 positive cases increased from 562 to 23456 till April 24. States such as New Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, Rajasthan and others showed manifold increase in coronavirus cases. Although due to various policy measures by various state governments such as Odisha, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and others the rate of increase in positive cases was less but in other states the rate of increase in COVID-19 cases was very high. States such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat comprise the major increase in the COVID-19 cases in India. During the first 30 days of the nationwide lockdown, the total coronavirus cases prevalence rate increased from 0.02 per one million to 2.14 per one million.
More than 20 per cent coronavirus cases had recovered throughout the country. The highest recovery rates, 100 per cent, were reported from three states viz., Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Manipur followed by Chhattisgarh (77.8 per cent) and Kerala (72.3 per cent), with six states are in the range of 50 per cent to 60 per cent recovery rate. Puducherry and Tamil Nadu have achieved 43 per cent and 45 per cent recovery rate respectively.
Odisha, Delhi and Karnataka achieved to the tune of 35.1 per cent, 32.5 per cent and 34 per cent. No recoveries were recorded in Mizoram and Meghalaya. However, the top 5 states, viz., Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which accounted for more than 65 per cent of total COVID-19 cases in India, were having recovery rate in the range of only 10 to 13 per cent except Delhi.
The logarithmic cumulative coronavirus cases in India showed that since March 24, the numbers of coronavirus positive cases increased. The curve was flat from February 2 to February 29, afterwards the number of cases increased, while at the global level the increase is more due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in USA and European countries. The cumulative number of positive cases is still at increasing in India. In Odisha, the rate of increase in the cumulative coronavirus positive cases was still in flat shape after two significant increases on April 3 and April 5 and then 13 cases on a single day on April 20.
As expected largely, the prevalence in Odisha was relatively low as compared to other major Indian states. Due to various effective measures taken by the Odisha government, the number of positive coronavirus cases was still under control. The total number of cumulative COVID-19 positive cases increased from merely 2 to 94 from March 24 to April 24, out of which 29 per cent were females and 71 per cent males. Across age groups in the state, around 48 per cent of the age group between 15 and 40 years were affected, while for the older people the share was 12 per cent.
The people of Odisha appreciated its government’s COVID-19 mitigation successes due to preparation of COVID-19 hospitals in various districts, announcement of second lockdown as first state in the country before April 14, (end of first lockdown), unveiling of various health security schemes like Rs 50 lakh for all health personnel (private and public) and members of all other support services who lose their lives in the fight against COVID-19, the families of all government personnel (medical and others) will continue to receive full salary till the date of retirement, all these are now part of government policy and would definitely offset the COVID-19. Nonetheless, the state is already devastated by coronavirus, which has already brought considerable impact on the overall growth and revenue generation capacity for the next financial year. With proper measures the unemployment rate can be reduced and the economic growth in the state can be revamped further.
(Views are personal.)