India Under 3 Week Lockdown to Curb Exponential Explosion of COVID-19
On 24th March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an unprecedented complete lockdown of India for 21 days to mitigate the spread of the worldwide pandemic, coronavirus. The world has seen more than 4 lakh cases in the first quarter of 2020, while India has seen over 600 cases.
Crux of the Matter
India saw its first Coronavirus case on 30th Jan 2020. The case count touched 100 after 44 days, after which the cases have doubled roughly every 4-5 days. As of 25th March the case count has crossed 600 with 11 deaths, 55 days after the first case.
This exponential rise in cases has caused a sense of panic among the people. So far the world has seen over 4 lakh cases and around 20,000 deaths. The virus which originated in China in November 2019, has travelled across the Silk Route, wreaking havoc in Italy, Spain, UK and the rest of Europe along with Iran. It has now spread in the USA and India, and has also affected China’s neighbours such as South Korea and Japan. In a massively globalised world, a virulently contagious disease is spreading like wild fire. Countries across the world including China, Italy and Spain, the 3 worst hit countries in terms of death toll, have resorted to locking down affected areas to contain the spread of the virus.
PM’s Appeal Although India hasn’t seen nearly as many cases as Europe, China or USA, given the country’s size and population density, Coronavirus poses a very potent threat to this country.
To stop the spread in its tracks, the Prime Minister has decided to implement a nation wide lock down of 3 weeks starting from 25th March. PM Modi made a special televised address on 24th March, and conveyed the seriousness of the situation in simple terms. He requested the citizens to stand together with discipline against this potential calamity.
Earlier on 22nd March Modi had announced a Junta Curfew, a self imposed curfew by the citizenry, which was observed by most of the country. Since then, different states had started announcing various lockdown measures till the end of March. Since the Junta Curfew day, streets across India have become empty with people staying locked up in their homes.
How will we lock down? In the upcoming weeks, all non-essential places of business will be closed. Police forces have been mandated to ensure that people stay at home. The government has promised the citizens that it will try to reduce the inconveniences of the general population while taking specific steps to combat the spread of coronavirus. PM Modi has already announced a Rs 15,000 crore package for strengthening the medical infrastructure of the country while the FM has announced a slew of relief measures to ease the fiscal burden on the working class.
To make the lockdown manageable, essential services such as groceries, medical stores, hospitals, police stations, fire stations, etc will stay open. Government will function with reduced capacity of work force. The government will not be cutting wages of its employees and has appealed to private business owners to follow suit. By and large, the prime minister’s appeal has been met with support by the populace as well as the industry.
Exponential Explosion At present, no vaccine or medicine has been confirmed as an antidote for the virus, although certain malaria and HIV medications have worked in treating some patients. Currently, the overall fatality rate across the world lies at 4% on the optimistic side. In cases that have been closed (i.e. the cases whose outcome has been determined), the worldwide fatality rate is currently 15%. Italy, the worst hit country so far, has a closed case fatality rate of 45% and overall fatality rate of 10%. (Here overall fatality rate is the total percentage of active and closed cases that resulted in deaths.)
The virus is transmittable across humans and is as contagious as flu. Every new patient increases the chance of spread. Also the symptoms stay dormant for 1-2 weeks, which means that an affected person may spread it without knowing about it. All of this increases the probability of transmission. The contagiousness of the disease makes it spread exponentially – assume 1 person transmits to 2 people, those 2 can transmit to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16 and so on and so forth. Given the asymptomatic first week, every carrier can transmit to many more people which would just increase the rate of spread.
This can be seen in the case data as well. It took 87 days to spread to the first 50,000 people. It doubled to 100,000 in another 23 days, then 200,000 in another 12 days and 400,000 in another 6 days. After the first 50,000 cases (which were mostly in China) once it spread out, the cases have doubled in half the time for every doubling event. This kind of exponential explosion can be curbed by pre-emptively restricting the interaction of humans – and hence, governments across the world are resorting to nation-wide lockdowns.
Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself. In the long run, exponential growth of any kind will overtake linear growth of any kind. A virus (for example SARS, or smallpox) typically will spread exponentially at first, if no artificial immunization is available. Each infected person can infect multiple new people. More Info