An early lockdown helped India beat COVID-19

India implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Here is a look at various factors that show how this strategy played out.

The fast and the strict

The University of Oxford developed something called the ‘Stringency Index’. It quantifies the strictness of a government’s lockdown measures. The metrics include 17 indicators which include workplace closures, cancellation of public events, and stay-at-home policies. The severity of the measures can range from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest). In March 2020 the lockdown in India was rated at the highest possible score of 100.

An early lockdown helped India beat COVID-19 4444
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The University of Oxford also reported in its study that India implemented a lockdown at an earlier stage of the spread of infection than most other countries. The other 18 countries in the study imposed their lockdowns after diagnosing more than 500 positive cases. India imposed quarantines on March 22 with only 320 cases.

The lockdown in India has gone through 4 phases so far. Areas with higher numbers of cases are still under quarantine. There is much evidence that these early and comprehensive preventative measures are helping India bounce back faster.

Slowing the infection down

India’s COVID-19 preventive measures vastly reduced the number of infected cases. A researcher from the National Institute of Epidemiology commented that without the strict policies 500,000 more Indians would have been infected.

The lockdown also slowed the rate of transmission. Before the quarantine the number of COVID-19 infected cases doubled every three days. After the lockdown the doubling occurred every eight days. As predicted by a government health expert the rate of spread of the infection has now dropped to doubling every ten days.

Lockdown for industry growth

The lockdown adversely impacted the economy, causing business shut-downs and job losses. However, it will benefit the economy in the long-run by reducing India’s reliance on imports. The State Bank of India (SBI) conducted a study on the pandemic’s impact on India’s manufacturing sector.

The study found that over the next five years India’s exports can grow by $193 billion. This is because many Indian manufacturers will move their production units from China to India. For this to happen, the government must provide stimuli in the form of subsidies.

E-commerce and digital payments

E-commerce firms have seen major increases in online shopping volumes. Big Basket, an Indian grocery delivery company, announced on March 25 that it was facing “unprecedented demand”. The company could not take new orders because of inventory shortages. Another grocery delivery service, Grofers, was only servicing a few locations for the same reasons.

Amazon India was getting more orders than ever before. This change in preferences for online shopping is likely to be permanent. According to the data analysis organization Observer Research Foundation, more people are likely to shop online in the future. It is safer and more convenient than in-person shopping.

India is likely to see rapid growth in digital payment platforms. Statistica is a data analysis company that surveyed 8,000 Indian consumers about their payment preferences. 9% of the respondents said that they only used digital payment methods such as mobile wallets. Another 33% used digital payments more than cash.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) forecasts that these changes will be permanent. International money transfer companies will also do more business in India. The World Bank predicts that remittances sent to low and middle-income countries such as India, Afghanistan and Thailand will increase by 5.6% next year. The increase is going to have a significant effect. Money transfers to India account for 11% of the global remittances.

Lockdown vs. pollution

In some ways the lockdown measures benefitted the environment. Automotive and industrial emissions declined dramatically. A monitoring station in Delhi found that the state’s air quality index touched 45. This is the best ever recorded since monitoring began. Climate Trends, an environmental organization, measured the air quality in 101 Indian cities. It found that the levels of air pollutants had dropped significantly in many areas.

India’s early lockdown achieved its intended purpose of reducing the spread of COVID-19. It also resulted in some unexpected benefits, which would improve the economic prospects in post-pandemic India.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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