These include restrictions on travel, targeted localized lockdowns, and school closures

Top American scientist Yaneer Bar-Yam has appreciated the Indian government’s efforts to contain Covid-19 cases and fatality rates over the past few months.

Highlighting steps taken by the government, Bar-Yam said that in particular decisions to impose severe restrictions on travel, stop gatherings, targeted localized lockdowns, school closures, had proven effective in controlling the outbreak.

Other major steps like effective public communication, improvements in case identification, rapid ramping of industrial production of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing capacity, have also contributed, he added.

In a paper published on his website, he listed the nine major government actions because of which India had managed to tame the infection.

1. He described the zoning of the country into three zones – red, orange and green – for localised lockdowns as probably the most effective step taken by the government last April. While severe restrictions were imposed in affected districts, there was partial lifting of restrictions in unaffected districts, along with the opening up of some sectors to meet the economic challenge.

2. Writing about the next step, he noted that restriction on travel was another major contribution in containing the virus. The regulation of travel continues into 2021 as travel has not been fully deregulated, he said.

3. Further, Bar-Yam said that isolation and contact tracing of individuals who test positive to Covid-19, and quarantining of primary high-risk contacts has been an effective strategy.

4. Noting that the shutting down of schools and colleges for an extended period was a great step, Bar-Yam said that the low number of cases can also be attributed to this.

5. Bar-Yam highlighted the contribution of the Indian industry, which he said responded like never before by producing masks and personal protective equipment at great pace not only to meet the country’s requirements, but also to supply to the world.

6. India has gone from a single lab that could perform RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 to over 2,300 in a short span of time, and this number has reduced the test result return time and also strengthened isolation and quarantine strategy, said the American scientist in his paper.

7. He praised the government for the steps like cautionary caller tunes on phones, heavy fines for not wearing masks, and spreading public awareness.

8. The American scientist also praised the response in high-density urban areas, which posed the greatest challenge, but the refinement of lockdowns, travel restrictions, rapid case identification, and communication found in other locations, has helped limit the spread.

9. He said that the vaccination drive is also expected to have an increasingly significant impact on the outbreak control in India.