Indian Council of Medical Research has published a report on how fast Covid-19 cases will spread in India. The report, as quoted by NDTV, says that it ‘may be possible to interrupt the transmission of Covid-19 in India, but only in the most optimistic scenario'.
The report which is dated 27th February speculates 3 scenarios for the spread of Coronavirus in India.
In the optimistic scenario, symptomatic cases would be around 1.5 million in Delhi, with roughly 5,00,000 in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. This spread would peak over a period of 200 days beginning from February.
Under the pessimistic scenario, symptomatic cases would be around 10 million in Delhi and 4 million in Mumbai. This spread would only take 50 days from February.
The study also has a hypothetical, optimistic scenario where it is assumed that the spread is prolonged to 700 days, and half of those who show any symptoms are quarantined within 3 days. If this happens, then Delhi would only see 2,00,000 cases of Covid-19.
In a reply to NDTV, Balram Bhargava, Director-General of ICMR said that "You have to remember this is purely a mathematical model done about a month back."
The report is focused mainly on the airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru as they are India’s major international travel hubs. This is primarily because the spread is officially in Stage 2, where only local transmission is happening. Local transmission is where the spread of the virus is limited to only the family, friends and other people who came in contact with someone who had a recent history of travel.
NDTV has also quoted the official government figure of 1.5 lakh people being screened at the airport.
However, ICMR study quotes two studies, one that estimates 46 per cent of infected travellers might not have been detected by thermal screening at the airport and the other that estimates more than half of the infected travellers would pass the thermal screening test on the account of being asymptomatic.
Asymptomatic are those patients who would be carrying the virus but might not show any symptoms. They are more dangerous as there is no way to test whether they are infectious or not, and this way they can pass on the virus to many people. The report mentions that "no fast-test kits (are) available to identify asymptomatic cases at airports." The idea to test all of them in laboratories is also “impractical” because of the huge number of international passengers that come in Indian every day.
This report is only modelled on passenger data from China, and not from the rest of the world.
As this report sees the light of the day, the government starting from 24th March has also banned domestic flights to control the spread of the virus. International flights had been suspended for almost a week now.
Based on this report, it is clear that if India wants to get out of this pandemic with the least amount of injuries, it is essential that a proper lockdown and screening of probable patients is done. The only way out for India is to flatten the curve as much as possible.