Beyond April 14, but is three weeks enough to stifle the growing contagion of the novel coronavirus?
No, if you ask Cambridge academics Rajesh Singh and Ronojoy Adhikari. In a new paper, they use a mathematical model based on country-specific age and social contact distributions to recommend a longer lockdown interrupted by periods of relaxation.The duo worked out how quickly the outbreak grows without social distancing — an umbrella term for a broad toolkit of measures, including lockdowns, that reduce contact between people — and how fast it shrinks when such restrictions are effectively enforced.”We find that the rate of growth is faster than the rate of shrinkage,” said Ronojoy Adhikari. The Adhikari-Singh paper predicts that a trio of consecutive lockdowns — 21 days, 28 days and eight days — interrupted by two five-day periods of relaxation could slow the contagion enough to help authorities bring it under control by tracing contacts of patients and imposing quarantines.An uninterrupted lockdown period of 49 days — that’s seven weeks — achieves a similar result.Asked to provide a number for the sustained lockdown period, Ronojoy Adhikari said bringing infections to manageable levels would depend on factors such as public compliance with stay-at-home orders .Ronojoy Adhikari, on his part, says India will surely enter the community transmission phase, “but whether we are in it now or not is anybody’s guess.””Also, there is no gain in splitting hairs over this. What we need now is extensive social distancing, extensive testing to map out where the infection is localised, and as much palliative care as can be arranged for those who will fall seriously ill.”