Social distancing working globally, difficult to sustain in India


NATIONAL | MARCH 26, 2020:

As the new coronavirus growth rate is declining in a somewhat predictable pattern in countries where social distancing/lockdown is established, it will be difficult to sustain social distancing in some of the most densely populated areas in India, a new report said on Thursday.

How long and how quickly the virus growth declines via social distancing varies by country based on measures what have been taken. This has happened in Italy, Spain, France and Germany.

"The UK, at 18 per cent, is still high, but social distancing measures have only just been rigorously applied. The next two weeks should show a declining rate of growth in the UK,' said Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research in its latest report.

"In India, the official number of infected is low but while it is growing relatively quickly (20 per cent in the last 24 hours) the government has moved fast to implement draconian lockdown measures that should slow the spread even if the real level of infection is much higher," the report added.

The problem for many places in India is that social distancing, in some of the most densely populated areas, will be difficult to sustain for long.

"India has implemented the fiercest measures of any country. It will be a test case of how to bring the outbreak under control across a vast and populous country," the report mentioned.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown from Tuesday midnight.

On Day 2, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that there was a reduction in the rate of increment of novel coronavirus cases in India.

Statisticians have observed that the coronavirus outbreak precisely follows mathematical models.

In the exponential growth phase, the unrestricted spread of the disease is about 25 per cent per day – the way the US is currently experiencing.

"This can be observed when the virus is spreading freely in a community without any social distancing measures, but testing is comprehensive enough so that significant numbers of new cases are recorded. Italy stayed in this stage for around the first 12 days of March," the report mentioned.

When social distancing is established, the growth rate starts to decline in a somewhat predictable pattern.

In the US, at the country level, the growth rate in cases in the last 24 hours was almost exactly 25 per cent.

"It is still not under control and there is no clear indication of how widely the virus has spread already. For example, in New York testing was expanded properly only last week and it is now undertaking more than 15k tests per day, and is finding 5k cases per day,' the report informed.

It is almost certain that the US will overtake all other countries, including China, with the highest total number of cases, it added.