When Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced 21-day nationwide lockdown across the country, the first question that cropped up in mind is about the choice of the specific period and the possibility of its success if the orders are being adhered to.
On Wednesday, a Muzaffarpur-based doctor, Arun Shah, told vndia Today TV that the move is the only way to slowdown or possibly stop the exponential spread of Covid-19 infection among people.
“The incubation period of the novel coronavirus lasts up to 5 to 14 days. This is also the potential transmission period. The idea behind this forced social isolation is to halt the spread of the microbe,” Arun Shah added.
Arun Shah is also known for his seminal study on Acute Encephalitis Syndrome with T Jacob John, the epidemiologist at the Christian Medical College in Vellore.
“All viruses can sustain or exist only by replicating. A virus cannot reproduce outside a cell, as it is completely dependent on a host cell to survive. This can be achieved by social distancing,” Arun Shah said.
“It is imperative to slow down and break the virus chain. We know that the first one lakh people [globally] were infected by Covid-19 in over 67 days. The next one lakh were infected in more than 11 days while the next one lakh added on to the lot in just four days. That is why, the social distancing is a must,” Arun Shah said.
Arun Shah further said: “As we don’t have a vaccine and it is unlikely to have one in the next 12 months, the government apparently is working on a plan to make most of the virus to burn itself out. While it will be too optimistic to expect a complete burnout of the virus, the lockdown coupled with social distancing measures is expected to lower the numbers of the infected persons.”
A day after PM Modi announced the nation-wide lockdown, India’s cumulative count of Covid-19 patients has climbed to 681, including 12 deaths. “In this backdrop, the government’s measure needs to be backed by strong interventions,” he said.
Dr Shah expressed hope that the outbreak of coronavirus will wane with a rise in temperature in times to come. “Rising temperature has often been good for the bacteria but not for viruses,” he said.
Earlier, addressing the state residents, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had quoted researchers to suggest that the situation will improve in April as it is said that the novel coronavirus becomes increasingly ineffective with a rise in temperature and is more effective in lower temperatures.
Is there a correlation between the deadly virus and changing temperatures? The National University of Singapore (NUS) has reportedly maintained that the seasonal pattern of novel coronavirus is similar to that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or COVP9 that broke out in 2003.
In countries such as China and US, flu season starts in December and peaks in January or February, following which it decreases.
SARS coronavirus strain had also disappeared in the northern summer of 2003 after which it has not made any significant comeback. So, it is likely to ebb down by May, when temperatures spike up.