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Coronavirus: ICMR study finds that social distancing can reduce cases up to 62%, one Indian capable of infecting 4 others

Earlier, the ICMR had released a revised strategy to battle the spread of the contagion that has paralysed many countries across the world. All the asymptomatic individuals who had undertaken international travel in the last 14 days were mandated to stay home quarantine for 14 days.

In a study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it has been found that cases of Wuhan Coronavirus can be reduced as much as 62%, provided people strictly adhere to the guidelines of quarantine and social distancing. The paper titled, “Prudent public health intervention strategies to control the coronavirus disease 2019 transmission in India: A mathematical model-based approach” was written in February 2020, before the COVID-19 had turned into a pandemic.

The study said, “Strictly implemented social distancing measures such as home quarantine of symptomatic (those showing symptoms) and suspected cases will reduce the overall expected number of Covid-19 cases by 62 per cent (in India), thus flattening the curve and providing more opportunities for interventions.”

The authors of the paper used an epidemiological characteristic, also known as the reproduction number (R0), to find the pace at which infection can spread in a given population. A value above 2 implies that the infection is difficult to contain without strict measures. It was found that an infected Indian can at best affect 1.5 people and at worst infect 4 other people.

The study was done in February when the numbers were not very high; our aim was not to look at how many cases would occur but what methods would work. And lockdown and thermal screening works are what our study shows,” Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, the Epidemiology Head at ICMR, was quoted as saying.

The paper also found that the coronavirus “epidemic” in India was inevitable and effective airport screening would have delayed India’s first 1,000 cases by 45 days at the maximum. The authors noted, “Our results suggest that it may be possible to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 in India, but only in the most optimistic scenarios… symptomatic quarantine can still achieve meaningful reductions in peak prevalence… However, such measures would have very little effect on the overall epidemic size. The actual numerical impact will be highly sensitive to the natural history of COVID-19, the parameters for which are very uncertain at present.”

Earlier, the ICMR had released a revised strategy to battle the spread of the contagion that has paralysed many countries across the world. All the asymptomatic individuals who had undertaken international travel in the last 14 days were mandated to stay home quarantine for 14 days. The new strategy includes testing of all symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases as well as of symptomatic health-care workers. All hospitalised patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses, including cough and fever and/or shortness of breath, will be tested for the contagion.

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