Sealing hotspots, areas with six or more positive cases of COVID-19, in 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 20 areas in Delhi, where the popular Bengali Market has also been sealed, indicates that the lockdown in these areas has been less effective. People may not have maintained social distancing, point out experts.
Sealing the lanes, bylanes and specific localities mean that nobody will be allowed to get in or move out of these areas.
Ironically, the announcement on Wednesday led to panic buying in Noida and Ghaziabad, with people thronging shops to stockpile on essential goods while ignoring warnings and advice to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
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Official sources in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have meanwhile appealed to people not to pay any heed to rumours. The CEO of NOIDA also reassured people in the sealed areas that essential goods would be made available by the administration. Ayodhya Police also issued an appeal to people to check fact-checking website Altnews before believing rumours.
While the Government on Wednesday put the number of COVID-19 cases at 5194 and deaths at 149, Hindustan Times put the figures at 5885 and 178 respectively and said that the discrepancy is due to the delay in collating data by the Health Ministry.
A Thursday morning report in The Indian Express quoted scientists as saying that they still do not see any flattening of the curve in India. The effect of the two-week old lockdown, they said, will become visible in the next, few days.
The report went on to explain:
In the study of infectious disease, the “basic reproduction number”, or R-naught is used to assess the severity of an outbreak. This number is an average, reflecting the number of people infected by one infected person.
The researchers at IIT Delhi have a current nationwide R-naught of 1.4, meaning that an infected person is passing COVID-19 onto an average of 1.4 other people. If an R-naught (R0) is above one, the outbreak will lead to an epidemic. If it is below one, the outbreak will eventually die out.
The five states with high case numbers, high spread within the state, and high transmission numbers are Maharashtra (with a R0 of 1.58), Tamil Nadu (1.53), Delhi (1.42), Andhra Pradesh (1.55), and Karnataka (1.44).
While Madhya Pradesh has a relatively high case number (165) and transmission rate (1.58), its spread throughout its districts is less (16 per cent). Although they have lower case numbers, some of the states with still high transmission rates are West Bengal (1.7), Gujarat (1.61), Bihar (1.6), and Jharkhand (1.58).