No Flight Bans Or Lockdowns Needed In India: Experts

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No Flight Bans Or Lockdowns Needed In India: Experts

| Updated: December 24, 2022 12:58

India’s present Covid scenario does not warrant restricting international flights or imposing a lockdown, but there is a need for strengthened surveillance and vigilance in view of the rising cases in some countries, experts opined.

They also held out that a fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as people in India have the advantage of “hybrid immunity,” natural immunity due to infection reinforced by vaccination.  

“Overall, there is no increase in Covid caseload and India currently is in a comfortable situation. Under present circumstances, there is no need to restrict international flights or impose a lockdown,” stated former AIIMS director, Dr Randeep Guleria.

Past experiences show that banning flights is not effective in halting the transmission of infection, he said. “Moreover, data suggests that the Omicron sub-variant BF.7, which is driving the surge in China, has already been found in our country.” 

Asked whether a lockdown could be needed in the coming days, Dr Guleria held out that a fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as the Indian population already has hybrid immunity because of a very good vaccination coverage and natural infection.

Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said India needs to exercise caution given the surge of COVID-19 cases in China and some other countries but a “lockdown-like situation is not envisaged in near future given the current India scenario.”

“Covid-appropriate behaviour needs to be reinforced since complacency has crept in because of very low number of Covid positive cases. We cannot be slack given the global scenario since the pandemic is still not over,” he said.

He also opined China comparatively is more vulnerable right now possibly because of low natural immunity, “poor vaccination strategy where young and healthy people were prioritised rather than older and vulnerable population, and lower vaccine efficiency”. 

Their population may be less immune and more vulnerable also due to the country’s strict lockdown mechanism, he said.

Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, a physician and an epidemiologist, said the experience of last three years has shown that travel restrictions only delayed the transmission of virus. However, it has no role anymore. 

“We had seen this a year ago with the Omicron variant. Clearly, travel bans have no role anymore. And secondly India has over 250 sub-variants of Omicron already. And, therefore, the most rational approach is to random sampling — with no mandates and minimal inconvenience to passengers — for incoming international passengers. The purpose would be to keep track of emerging Covid sub-variants,” he said.

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