As coronavirus positive cases in the country cross the 500 mark, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has come out with suggestions to control the spread of the pandemic. An ICMR study showed that strict implementation of social distancing measures can drastically reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Strictly implemented social distancing measures such as home quarantine of symptomatics and suspected cases will reduce the overall expected number of cases by 62% and the peak number of cases by 89%, a mathematical modeling done by ICMR suggested. The simple social distancing measure can easily flatten the curve and provide more opportunities for interventions, it said.
The findings of the study also suggest that entry screening or travel restrictions may be beneficial in reducing the risk of outbreak in countries. The entry screening of travellers with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 can delay the introduction of the virus into the community by three days to three weeks.
The report has also suggested that India ranks 17th among the countries at the highest risk of importation of COVID-19 through air travel. The probability of an infected air traveller to come to India as the final destination was 0.2%, with the highest relative import risk in Delhi (0.064%) followed by Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi.
ICMR scientists also showed that "identifying at least 75% of the asymptomatic individuals was needed, in order to delay the within-country outbreak by an appreciable amount." Additional detection of 90% asymptomatic individuals would delay the average time to epidemic by 20 days.
The ICMR study said the efficiency and timeliness of quarantine and isolation of patients remain critical concerns. Further, the challenge is of detection of COVID-19 with symptoms similar to many other lower respiratory tract infections.
The study was conducted in February and "projections are subject to substantial uncertainty." "The focus of analysis was to identify rational intervention strategies that might work towards control of the outbreak in India," the ICMR study said.
The total number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 562 today. The death toll reached 10 after a 54-year-old man from Tamil Nadu's Madurai passed away.
Starting from today, India has suspended all domestic flights across the country. Earlier, the Centre had stopped international flights till March 31 to prevent the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. Only essential services like grocery shops, banks and ATMs and medicine outlets will remain functional.