A deserted street in Paharganj during the nationwide lockdown | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
A deserted street in Paharganj, Delhi, during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s official Twitter handle shared a Covid-19 response tracker by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. The tracker notes the varying degrees of stringent government policies across the world to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

With the Narendra Modi government being the only regime to have announced a 21-day long nationwide lockdown, the tracker puts India high on the stringency index. India Monday entered the penultimate day of its three-week long nationwide lockdown.

Sharing the tracker last week (10 April), the BJP tweeted saying: “The ‘full marks’ underline Modi government’s proactiveness, seriousness and swiftness in implementing effective lockdown.”

On Monday, however, the Blavatnik School of Government, which teaches and does research through the Oxford University, replied saying: “Thanks for your interest in our tracker, which simply records the number and strictness of government policies. The related stringency index should not be interpreted as measuring the appropriateness or effectiveness of a country’s response – there are no ‘marks’ as such.”

A similar statement is also present in bold on the tracker’s website. It adds: “A higher position in the Stringency Index does not necessarily mean that a country’s response is ‘better’ than others lower on the index.”

The Blavatnik School of Government, founded in 2010, is a public policy department in the Oxford University. It was founded by Professor Ngaire Woods, who is also the department’s current dean.

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About the tracker

The Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) collects publicly available information by a team of over 100 students and staff from all over the world.

It began in March 2020 to collate “systematic information on which governments have taken which measures, and when, can help decision-makers and citizens understand the robustness of governmental responses in a consistent way, aiding efforts to fight the pandemic”.

The OxCGRT collects data on a scale of 13 indicators. A higher score suggests higher degree of measures taken by a government.

Nine of the 13 indicators, S1-S7, S12 and S13, focus on policies such as travel bans, closure of schools, closing public transports, restrictions on internal movement, testing policies and contact tracing. Meanwhile, S8-S11 focuses on monetary and fiscal support, and initiatives such as emergency investment in healthcare and funding for vaccines, among others.

While the data collated is not an indication of the effectiveness of stringent measures, “they can be useful input to studies that analyse factors affecting disease progression”.

India’s nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end Tuesday (14 April). However, certain states like Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and Punjab have already extended their state-wide lockdowns till 30 April. As of Monday, India has 9,240 cases and 331 deaths.

Also read: Palaniswami-led Tamil Nadu govt springs surprise with stellar Covid-19 crisis management


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