PM Modi has announced 'janata curfew' Sunday, asking people to stay indoor for 14 hours (representational image)
PM Modi has announced 'janata curfew' Sunday, asking people to stay indoor for 14 hours (representational image) | Commons
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New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi has announced a ‘janata curfew’ Sunday, urging all citizens to stay indoors for 14 hours.

The request comes in the wake of increasing numbers of patients infected with COVID-19. During his address to the nation Thursday, the PM also explained the importance of social distancing and urged citizens to stay vigilant.

India seems to be following the path of other affected countries, with numbers doubling every 2.5 days.

Unfortunately, India has been testing far less than other countries and thus numbers are expected to climb steeply in the coming days.

Going by the transmission pattern of other countries, there has been a surge in the number of positive cases around the third week since the first case was reported.

According to public health sector experts, the objective is now to flatten the curve of the spread of the virus, and the PM’s announcement of a voluntary one-day curfew is seen widely as a trial run to a potential national shut down. 

The move is not expected to bring down the transmission of the disease but help people mentally prepare. A complete shutdown will affect workers and businesses across society for weeks, and Sunday could be a test day to prepare, say public health experts.

Calling the ‘janata curfew’ a symbolic move, Anant Bhan, researcher of public health and bioethics, said sitting at home for half a day is not expected to bring down the transmission of the disease. 

“A curfew of 14 hours is not going to make much of an impact, the move is to prepare people for staying at home, maintaining distance, which may be needed in the future,” Bhan said.

“In case, we do need more mandatory lockdowns in the future, India being a liberal democracy would have to figure out how to implement them.”

Lockdowns can also not be implemented at a national level, and these measures will have to be taken at the local level considering the disease spread in the area, explained Bhan.

“For now, ‘janata curfew’ is more of a communication and symbolic exercise,” he said.


Also read: European registry of patients to contact tracing app — 5 global developments on COVID-19


What happens to the number of cases in 14 hours?

Virologists say that the 14-hour break will not have much impact to the number of cases.

“If there is no traffic on Sunday because everyone is staying indoors due to a curfew, there might be a handful of accidents averted,” said T. Jacob John, retired professor of Virology at Christian Medical College, Vellore, and who formerly headed the Indian Council for Medical Research’s Centre for Advanced Research in Virology.

“But on Monday when all the traffic is back on the roads, the number of accidents go up.”

Essentially, the spread of the virus is curtailed or paused for a day. But this doesn’t mean it ensures no spread.

If there are people who’re infected and are currently indoors, they could infect the rest of the household anyway. This is especially so for asymptomatic transmission, which is very common in COVID-19. And in India, even though the numbers are currently low, it is risky to estimate that these are likely to be only a handful of people.

Additionally, the curfew also doesn’t mean it will ensure no climb in numbers.

The numbers are recorded when people displaying symptoms test positive. However, there are those who continue to spread asymptomatically. Further, many people who’re already infected might not display symptoms or could suddenly display symptoms Sunday, increasing the number of cases.

But what happens to the virus itself is a different matter.

“The duration in which an infectious person can transmit to others is several days long,” said John.

“A single’s day’s holiday might cut down the chances of a handful of people. Because the person who might have gotten infected on a bus on Sunday didn’t step out. But the person who could have infected them continues to remain infectious. They will spread the disease on Monday and the day after that.”

“It might be one day less of infection, and would make a dent in the life of the people who would have gotten infected on Sunday,” he added.

“But in terms of larger numbers, it’s anybody’s guess. Just 14 hours is unlikely to make a dent in the bigger picture.”

Curfew can help prepare people for social distancing

Dr Giridhara R. Babu, head at life-course epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India, however, said it is a good strategy with two objectives.

“First, all hospitals should carry out a preparedness drill on Sunday. Guidelines for this drill have been made available on the Health Ministry website. This is to make sure that hospitals will be battle ready if there is a surge in cases in future. No country has done it before during the current COVID-19 outbreak,” said Babu.

Second, from a public health perspective, we can prepare people to participate in social distancing voluntarily by tapping into the public support for the prime minister and using his rapport with the public, he said.

“We can’t forcefully shut everything down like China.”

“If it is successful for a day on 22nd March, we can rely on extending this if needed,” he added.


Also read: On science of Covid-19 — drugs, threat to diabetics and why it’s killing more Italians


 

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19 Comments Share Your Views

19 COMMENTS

  1. The experience of Italy is a standout proof of the Fact that even when the total population is in lockdown for 10days, the cases of Coronovirus- both positives & deaths – can continue to mount day by day. South Korea & Taiwan have shown that only a massive Testing campaign to identify & isolate positives for treatment is effective in containing this pandemic. South Korea & Taiwan have established a vast, effective system of speedily tracking contacts of positives & suspected positives to quickly isolate infected victims. South Korea & Taiwan have created large hospital capacities & marshalled a huge resource of doctors, nurses & hospital staff to treat all victims effectively. They have created vast stocks & distribution systems of masks & body suits to cover all hospital caregivers & general population. The experience of Italy shows Narendra Modi’s 14hr Janata curfew & hand clapping serves no purpose. The example of South Korea & Taiwan shows Modi Sarkar has failed to use the available time in the past to effectively prepare for this pandemic.

  2. Janata curfew’ is a public drill, won’t really stop spread of coronavirus: THE REASON – IT IS CALL GIVEN BY MODI
    Before writing such headlines two questions need to be answered. (1) IS there a cure for the virus? (2) Can It be prevented?
    If the answer is YES let us do it. If the Answer is NO Cut the —- out
    And do whatever is possible without aggravating the situation.
    India is testing far less not because of MODI but because of the NEHRU-GANDHIs , who rules this country since independence and neglected the public health while stealing and allowing the thefts by their cronies the proof mother and son on bail.
    If Modi had not pushed for digitization of economy over past six years can you imagine the chaos we would have had at the banks and ATMs with people trying to get cash which in itself would be the single largest carrier of the virus.
    The brave ones name MODI and the not so brave insinuate as and when they get a platform.

  3. Bombay’s local trains have shut down, barring for people providing emergency services, till the 31st. So are all other trains, till the 25th. Covid 19 is getting the kind of heavy duty response it should have at least a month earlier. The $ 1.3 billion question is whether community spread has acquired an unstoppable momentum of its own. Ms Barkha Dutt’s interview with Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan chills the blood.

  4. This public health claims there is no community spread in spite of the fact that the testing very small number people who are infected or who were close to those who were infected. This expert does not understand that the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.

  5. I think it (Janata Curfew) is a futile exercise , won’t help at all !! A total health and sanitation measures should be taken with strong hand. People should be compelled to abide by the rules.More facilities like testing centers, free test of |Corona virus, supply of masks, sanitizers and other materials should be arranged.Our people are not at all disciplined to obey the strict measurers. It should be implemented thoroughly and meticulously.Corona or no Corona, we the people of India mostly not disciplined anough to follow any order, rule etc.

  6. If the new coronavirus resembles other human coronaviruses, such as its “cousins” that cause SARS and MERS, it can stay on surfaces — such as metal, glass or plastic — for as long as 9 days . SO , JANATA CURFEW IN INDIA MUST CONTINUE FOR 2 WEEKS .

  7. Social distancing for 14 hours may break the contamination chain. This is what Texas University professor came out in his article. Copper surface can retain the virus for 0.8 hour, cardboard can retain for 2.4 hours and longest being plastic and stainless steel for 3.6 hours. What many countries are doing is to break the chain. China, South Korea and Singapore did this successfully, even through China and Korea did suffer initially. 14 hours of social distancing on Sunday will certainly have good impact. All infected surfaces get broken on Sunday with people getting into chain of transmissions. Ofcourse, we want to oppose just for the sake of it, well, nothing more to say to those educated illiterates.

  8. Modi is just doing a dress rehearsal tomorrow, more is to come. By next week, he may shut down big cities to stop the spread of the virus.

  9. Ahh…

    So that “public health expert” is expecting himself to be heard my making that barely-contained crack..

    …That India’s a “liberal democracy”???
    Errmmm..
    Given it’s a very good jonk, I’m sure the regime will now listen to him.

  10. I want to know…. Yes we staying at home and we are not coming out for the whole day that’s ok.. But what about animals… Is there is no problem with those chemicals to our animals and the grass which we store for cattle at our homes …

  11. The simultaneous hand-clapping and ghanti-pealing might do the trick. If all is done at the same frequency, then by RESONANCE such high amplitudes can be generated which will tear asunder each and every coronavirus. Just thinking aloud. Modi ji may not have college certificates, but he surely went to school. Possibly he remembers some school Physics.

  12. It is only a step suggested by PM MODI to just see the spread is restricted at least by a day if one looks in a negative way no solutions can be found.If the doctors and others have better solutions government is ready to take it in the interest of the country peoples

  13. EVEN IF MODI DECLARES EMERGENCY AND PUT LIBRANDUS IN JAIL,
    THEY WILL CONTINUE TO CHANT –
    1) WON’T SHOW THE PAPERS.
    2) WON’T WASH THE HANDS.
    3) WILL SHAKE HANDS WITH CORONA INFECTED PERSONS
    4) WILL DO PARTYING, HUGH AND DANCE.
    …….
    WILL DO ALL THAT HELPS SPREAD CORONA VIRUS. IT’S OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO SPREAD WHATEVER WE WANT TO SPREAD.
    DO WHATEVER YOU CAN. WE WILL DO WHATEVER WE WANT BECAUSE IT GIVES US HAPPINESS.

    • If emergency is declared and stupid bhakts put in jail they would still continue to chant, “Jai ho”. Looks like lack of brain is the primary requirement to be a bhakt. And oh, by the way which party was it whose members attended the dinner meet?

      • And AK Dev passes the lack of a brain requirement of a bhakt with flying colours. Promoting him to andh bhaktandu is a logical step.

    • Yikes!

      Your language.

      “Hugh”??? Goodness Gracious Me!
      Stop watching way too much of superhero flicks, already.

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