No Need to Ban International Flights or Impose Lockdown Under Present COVID Scenario: Experts

New Delhi: India’s current COVID-19 scenario does not warrant restricting international flights or imposing a lockdown, but there is a need to strengthen vigilance and vigilance in view of rising cases in some countries, experts said.

They also said that a new outbreak of severe COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is unlikely because people in India have the advantage of “hybrid immunity,” meaning natural immunity from vaccine-boosted infection.

“Overall, there is no increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and India is currently in a comfortable situation. In the current situation, there is no need to restrict international flights or impose a lockdown,” Dr Randeep Guleria, former director of AIIMS, told PTI on Friday.

Past experiences show that banning flights is not effective in stopping the transmission of the infection, he said. “Furthermore, the data suggests that the Omicron sub-variant BF.7, which is driving the rise in China, has already been found here.”

Asked whether a lockdown is needed in the coming days, Dr Guleria said: “No new outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalizations are unlikely as the Indian population has hybrid immunity, very good vaccination coverage and natural infection.”

“Considering the current situation and the good level of hybrid immunity in the population, there does not seem to be any need for the blockade,” said Dr. Guleria.

Dr. Neeraj Gupta, professor at Safdarjung Hospital’s Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, said India needs to be cautious given the rise in COVID-19 cases in China and other countries, but “it’s not a lockdown-like situation.” is envisaged in the near future considering the current scenario in India”.

“The appropriate behavior for COVID needs to be strengthened, as complacency has crept in because of the very small number of positive cases of COVID. We cannot be complacent given the global picture, as the pandemic is not over yet,” he said.

He added that “hybrid immunity” makes you safer against future infections, with morbidity/mortality benefits.

“India has the advantage of citizens taking voluntary actions like prevention, early diagnosis and good vaccination strategy,” he told PTI.

He also believes that China is weaker today, probably because of low natural immunity, “a poor vaccination strategy in which young and healthy people were prioritized over older and vulnerable populations, and lower vaccine effectiveness.”

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

Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya, a physician and epidemiologist, said experience over the past three years has shown that while travel restrictions have delayed the transmission of the virus, it no longer plays a role.

In fact, it cannot stop the transmission and also, by the time a new variant is detected, it has already reached various parts of the world, he said.

“We saw that a year ago with the Omicron variant. Clearly, travel bans no longer play a role. And secondly, India already has more than 250 sub-variants of Omicron. And, therefore, the most rational approach is to do a random sampling – with no mandate and minimal inconvenience to travelers – of incoming international travelers. The goal would be to track emerging sub-variants of COVID-19,” he said.

The current COVID situation in India is under control and there is no reason to panic, said Dr NK Arora, Chairman, National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI).

However, he added that people should follow proper behavior against Covid and those who are eligible should take a booster dose.

Amid cases in Japan, the United States, South Korea, Brazil, France and China, India has stepped up surveillance and genome sequencing of COVID-positive samples.

China’s cities are currently plagued by the highly transmissible Omicron strain, particularly BF.7, which is the main variant circulating in Beijing and is contributing to a wider rise in infections in that country.

BF.7 is a sublineage of the Omicron BA.5 variant and has the strongest infectivity as it is highly transmissible. It has a shorter incubation period and also has a greater ability to cause reinfection or infect the vaccinated.

Moreover, 97% of the Indian population has received the first dose, and 90% has also taken the second.

However, only 27% of the eligible population has taken the booster dose.


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