World V/s COVID19: ‘India’s Lockdown Was Early, Far-Sighted And Courageous’: WHO Special Envoy

source: theindianexpress

According to the reports, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Dr. David Nabarro lauded India for taking early steps such as lockdown which gave the country, the time to come to terms with the new virus. Surprisingly, he believes that there is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may disappear any time soon.

Declaring a lockdown when there was almost a small number of cases in India gave the country time to come to terms with the new virus, Dr. David Nabarro explains Sanchita Sharma in an interview with Hindustan Times.


World vs COVID-19

On asking about how the COVID-19 can be stopped?: he said, If you don’t get in early and the outbreaks spread, they get very, very big very quickly and then managing them is a massive and very taxing task. So, where you have countries with not many cases and strong, robust responses at the community level supported by governments, we are most hopeful.

source: buisinessinsider

According to him, everything starts at the community level, detecting people with the disease and isolating them, finding their contacts and quarantining them, and maintaining, as far as possible, a ready state to respond to outbreaks very quickly, and widespread efforts to reduce opportunities of transmission through lockdowns. During a lockdown, you must build community capacity for interrupting transmission where it starts — in local communities — and I see it recognized in India.

source: imperial

India’s fight over pandemic 

Asking about how well India is handling the pandemic, he said: The lockdown in the country was quite early on when there was relatively a small number of cases detected. This was a far-sighted decision because it allowed the whole country to come to terms with the reality of this enemy. People understood that there is a virus in our midst. It gave time to develop capacities at the local level for interrupting transmission and sorting out hospitals.


Of course, there is a lot of debate and criticism, and inevitably with a lot of frustration and anger that life is being disturbed in this way. It is very, very upsetting. I think it is courageous of the government, honestly, to take this step and provoke this enormous public debate and let the frustration come out, to accept that there will be hundreds of millions of people whose lives are being disrupted. For poor people on daily wages, this is a massive sacrifice they are making. And to do it now at an early stage as opposed to waiting three or four weeks later when the virus is much more widespread was very courageous.

A need for a lockdown 

Nabarro has his catch on how long the lockdown is required. According to him, it all depends on how well-organized the basic community-level public health services and hospitals are. Plus whether people can see it as a battle that requires solidarity right across society. “I don’t make any kind of recommendation because I don’t know what is happening [on the ground].”

India lockdown1
Courtesy: Vox

“India is looking very, very carefully to make sure that when the lockdown is lifted, there won’t be a windfall, with lots and lots of cases, hospitals overwhelmed and a national crisis. I think that strategy is right.


What about the people worst affected?

Being a special envoy on the disease, Dr. David Nabarro feels a need to help people in trouble. “We need to save the lives of people who are badly affected. We must be looking after our hospitals, treating our health workers like they have to be treated considering they are on the front line, protecting them as much as we can and supporting them in society so they get looked after… making sure they are secure and safe.”

Migrant labourers
Courtesy: Indian Express

Will coronavirus go away or will it become a seasonal virus like the flu viruses?

Appearing clueless about the future about the disease, Nabarro hints a possible long term struggle. “We don’t know how this virus will behave over time and whether it will become less serious and whether it will have a particular distribution pattern. The virus is four months old, to our knowledge, and we are learning over time. I don’t know what will happen in hotter weather. I’m very eagerly awaiting information from your country which is now going into the hot season to know whether or not there is the same level of transmission, or whether it is the same level of illness that we’ve seen in a temperate climate. I’m hoping that it won’t be quite so severe and that the weather will be on our side.”

Chinese people
Courtesy: MarketWatch

“We also don’t know how the virus will behave in communities where there is quite a lot of illness, like for example malaria or other infectious diseases,” he adds.


“I’m asking people to consider the new norms at the same time they are imposing lockdowns because the new norms are going to be key to exiting safely from lockdowns without exposing people to disease,” he concludes.