Bengaluru: India and South Africa implemented stringent lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 at around the same time. But not accounting for differences in socio-political, economic and population structures, the South African strategy of aggressive testing before and during the lockdown seems to have paid off, as the nation is now recording far fewer daily cases, despite being in lockdown for roughly the same period of time as India.
India went into a national lockdown on 24 March, 54 days after the country’s first confirmed case (30 January), while South Africa did so on 26 March, 21 days after its first case (5 March).
As of Monday morning, India has 17,615 active cases with 559 deaths while South Africa in comparison has just 3,158 cases with 54 deaths.
Impact of lockdown
While India and South Africa are not entirely comparable, owing to population demographic variations, there are lessons from the African nation’s response to the pandemic.
On the day the Indian lockdown commenced, the country had a total of 536 cases with 18 deaths. By contrast, South Africa had already reported 927 cases but no deaths on the day of its lockdown. The African country’s first reported death came the next day as case numbers crossed the 1,000 mark.
Nearly a month on from their respective lockdowns, India has had 17,079 newer cases while South Africa has recorded 2231 newer cases.
During the period of the lockdown so far, India has seen 541 new deaths, while S. Africa has had only 54.
But the testing data shows that now, India is recording upwards of 500 new cases each day, while South Africa is averaging at about 150 new cases a day. The highest spike South Africa saw was on the first day of its lockdown — a mere 243 new cases.
The key difference between the two countries has been the testing strategy.
India continued testing slowly, expanding the inclusion criteria in steps, even after the lockdown. New Delhi began testing those with symptoms but without travel history only on 9 April, a full 70 days after the first confirmed case and 15 days after the national lockdown began.
South Africa went the exact opposite way, ramping up testing and aggressively chasing the whole population. On day 15 of its national lockdown, the country had conducted 64,000 tests, a large part of which was done by the private sector.
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How SA kept numbers low
South Africa went into lockdown in 21 days of detecting its first patient. India had only three confirmed cases on 20 February, which was 21 days of its first detected case on 30 January.
By contrast, South Africa had already detected 900 cases before a full lockdown was announced. The increased number of cases, as compared to India, is likely due to increased, methodical testing.
South Africa tested rigorously.
By 7 February, the disease had not even entered the country, but its National Institute for Communicable Diseases had already conducted 42 tests, all of which were negative. By mid-February, again before the first positive case was confirmed, the government announced free testing at all state hospitals.
In just a week after its first case on 5 March, South Africa had already tested over 47,000 people. It now has the capacity to test 36,000 people a day through drive through test centres as well as at clinics and hospitals.
In all, as of 20 April, South Africa has conducted over 1,14,000 tests so far, within 50 days of the disease being in the country. The testing frequency measures at 1,934 tests per million people. By contrast, India has conducted over 4,00,000 tests — larger in number but only 291 tests per million, in the past 80 days that the disease has been in the country.
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Stages of lockdown
While the South African lockdown commenced on 26 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa had declared a national emergency and issued travel restrictions from 15 March.
Schools were closed down on 18 March, 13 days after the first case. On the same day, all government and parliamentary sessions and meetings were suspended.
A day later on 19 March, fearing panic buying, the government enforced price controls and limits on items, and price gougers were punished through a hefty fine or a year in jail.
Those who violated travel and transit bans were heavily fined too. Within seven days of lockdown, over 2,200 people were arrested for violating social distancing procedures. Even a minister was put on leave for two months for violating lockdown regulations.
But just like in India, the police in South Africa have come under criticism for excessive use of force. Nine people have reportedly died from police brutality so far.
Also read: The curious case of South Asian countries and coronavirus
India has tested 541000+ and south africa did 143000+…. Don’t compare apple with orange. You can compare India with China or with usa up to an extend.
India has population of 139 billion and south africa has just below 60 million
Population density in India is 464 per sq km, in South Africa it is 49 per sq km.
Population density in mumbai is 42000 per sq km and in Johannesburg 2900 per sq km.
You can create such sponsored article for someone… Glorify someother country inorder to demoralise india.. great job.. go ahead with someone’s agenda
Your homework for today. Please re-write the whole article comparing say Karnatak or Tamil Nadu with South Africa. Please submit by end of day tomorrow..
you cannot compare apples with oranges. writing an article for the sake of writing one does not make sense.
Not sure if this will reach to you Ms. Sandhya . I m very sure that even before you write such a baseless article, you know its gonna have some backlash. Prolly you are being pressured by your employers to write this kind of a trash. This may fetch you for survival stuffs but please when it is right time you should consider moving over to a responsible media where you can bring out stuffs that you truly value.
How difficult is it for you guys to sound logical?
Wait for it, your end is near. We are going to file a law suit against The print I’ll personally make sure this media house is shut.
So much criticism regarding the article! I guess the article isn’t saying India has done poorly, instead its saying India could have done better. True, We could have done better. But, what the government has done so far is best of its ability. African nations have previously seen and dealt with similar epidemics though not on such large scale, but that means they have first hand experience regarding such issue, not only government but even the people know the consequences of negligence whilst it is first time India is facing such issue. Spanish flu, yes, India was one of the worst affected by Spanish flu but the ones who saw that, are long dead, so it is one of it’s kind challenge for the government. Add to it that people until mid April still believed that this is a ‘foreign disease’ it doesn’t affect us. Considering this, we have been doing pretty decently. But, there is always scope for betterment. So, constructive criticism should always be welcomed but at the same time let’s be thankful and appreciative of all the good works that the governments’ been doing.
South africa in size is smallest than even smallest state in India ,hence stop writing articles that don’t make sense.
It’s a senseless comparison. By going with Sandhya, taking South Africa as a benchmark in both corrona cases and associated deaths, India with 21.66 times more the size of population must have recorded 71,500 cases and 1,257 deaths. In contrast, India has recorded only 26% cases and 47% deaths! If you take UK’s case it has recorded 32 times (124,743) more cases and 244 times (16,509) more deaths. In the case of Italy, in comparison to South Africa, they have reported 181,228 cases – that is whopping 5,200% and in case of deaths it’s 24,114, mind boggling 39,500%. Clearly, Sandhya’s motive in writing such heap of garbage is beyond what is visible to our eyes! Of course, readers can get it, though hardly in can be digested by people without prejudice.
Pretty annoying that Ms Sandhya Ramesh used such a public platform to vomit her illiteracy! More annoying is Editor-in-Chief authorized to print such a scrap! Is this an indication of credibility of journalism being practiced? By going with Sandhya, taking South Africa as a benchmark in both corrona cases and associated deaths, India with 21.66 times more the size of population must have recorded 71,500 cases and 1,257 deaths. In contrast, India has recorded only 26% cases and 47% deaths! If you take UK’s case it has recorded 32 times (124,743) more cases and 244 times (16,509) more deaths. In the case of Italy, in comparison to South Africa, they have reported 181,228 cases – that is whopping 5,200% and in case of deaths it’s 24,114, mind boggling 39,500%. Clearly, Sandhya’s motive in writing such heap of garbage is beyond what is visible to our eyes! Of course, readers can get it, though hardly in can be digested by people without prejudice.
India has tabliqui jammat South Africa does not have these menacing community defiant individuals. Thats the difference
Please check demographics of SA, they also have all the different religions including the one you are referring to, and that too in quite a hefty number.. Only difference is they are going after each human who is not following rules and not really wasting time and money on blaming different communities.
Who is wasting money on blaming any community? They stoned and spitted on health workers sent to rescue them. You will go after every body in a community? If government do that, you will be the first one to criticise. Muslims behave proper in non democratic societies and Islamic countries. Because according to islam, they will kill you or cut off your hands. In india, anything chalega because of people like you supporting criminals. 30% of overall cases and 60% of new cases are because of Tablighi. Non BJP governments were going after people who were speaking truth instead of criminals and it’s going to cost them dearly in Maharashtra. That’s one relief.
Why did you even bother writing an article like this? It makes no sense. How can you compare the two countries? They are different on so many levels. Unless slamming our country was the motive for you.
Why even bother writing an article like this? It makes no sense. How can you compare the two countries? They are different on so many levels. Unless slamming our country was the motive for you.
Your game is gonna end soon for spreading fake news and acting as antinational element varadharajan…
Poor choice of topic. We have states with larger population which are doing better than SA.
If you ignore the dominant factors of total population and population density your conclusions
are not worth reporting.
What a dopey piece.
No substance or style- word salad filled with numbers and buzz words.
Not only is there a difference in population size, but the date of India’s first case is in January whilst south Africa s first case was in March..higher testing is not the only solution, if it were, then US and the west would not be in the situation they presently are
Even the criteria for test by ICMR that’s being peddeled here is wrong , all person with travel history and have symptoms and with their immediate contacts were being tested till 9th april and then expanded
Journalists shouldn’t dwell in science or dabble in what they don’t understand. Our population is 1.35billion what’s the right. Number of people to be tested. There is not a single expert in the world, who has understood the whole pandemic. What all the experts are saying is basically thier opinion based on thier field of expertise.
It is right now in the phase of most epidemiological studies, for eg. In last so many years some one will say don’t eat eggs it raises cholesterol and next group will say that no it doesn’t. Most epidemiological studies are more often educated guesses. Each journalist will choose to highlight someone’s opinion, which aligns with they themselves feel is right.
All journalists should stop trying to answer questions, which is still evolving.
Why not compare the figure for India of Corona pandemic with the figures originating from Italy, France, U.K. and USA and draw some valid conclusions ? Each country has its own set of unique problems. Each country is facing the pandemic with its own resources. It has been a fun time for the tribe of yours like minded journalists to mock the efforts of the Governments, of Medical fraternity , of common man while sipping branded wines and liquors in the cool comforts in their drawing rooms. Sorry your article does not add to any thing which compels any body re-thinking in What RG type leaders have called “” strategy , strategy , strategy ……………………… strategy “
Until SA government starts publishing more info on their testing strategies, such as performed tests per province, you cannot say anything about our number of cases nor compare numbers with other countries.
I strongly doubt the efficiency of how screening is performed and how testing candidates are chosen. Other countries provide much more information on these matters. For example, Limpopo has 27 cases – but how many tests have been performed in Limpopo?
jeez you’re an idiot.
Thats because you dont have Tabliqui Jamaat there violating laws. And making it a super spreader event.
No, that’s because they don’t have a government that would allow anybody to violate laws, as the governments, both state and central, in India did, when they allowed Tablighi Jamaat and so many temples to violate laws.
This article doesn’t make any sense. . South Africa population is less than karnataka population. . If we compare it by size India is doing far better. .
Population density of India is around 18 times higher than south Africa, so there is no surprise that cases in india are 5 times higher than south Africa. Thus south africa is not an apt example for your argument.
This is an infectious distance whose spread is a function of the level of contact with an infectious person. SA has a population density 1/10th that of India. Now, use this fact and you will observe that the expected cases in both the countries is more or less in both the nations. It is no rocket science . No wonder the article added a caveat about “demographics” but it is not a minuscule caveat to be brushed aside but it is one of the dominant factors to be included when analyzing spread of infectious diseases.
this doesn’t make sense. India has a 1bn population. SA 57m. So if india was doing so badly, they’d have 17x 54 deaths = 947 deaths. So at 559 deaths you’re almost doing twice as well as south africa.
There is an old statistical conundrum.The number of female automobile drivers -involved in accidents is much less than those among the male drivers involved in accidents.Can we conclude that women are safer automobile drivers?The moral is that only equals should be compared.
While dealing with statistics which rise exponentially calculating the daily percent compound growth is a better measure than just numbers. Because that is what catches the real picture. So this comparison between number of new cases doesn’t give much information about which strategy is working better.
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