'Hong Kong contained COVID-19 spread sans lockdown'

New Delhi: A lesson that many states in India can learn from the experiences of countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc that contained the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus without adopting total lockdown measures.

According to a recent study published in The Lancet, Hong Kong averted a major COVID-19 outbreak up to March 31, 2020, by adopting far less drastic control measures such as border entry restrictions, quarantine and isolation of cases and contacts.

The study also highlighted that the country managed the virus spread by adopting rigorous social distancing.

As of March 31, 2020, Hong Kong had 715 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 94 asymptomatic infections, and 4 deaths in a population of about 7.5 million.

The study further estimates that the rate at which the virus is transmitted — known as the average number of people each individual with the virus is likely to infect at a given moment —has remained at approximately one in the 8 weeks since early February, after public health measures were implemented from late January onwards.

"By quickly implementing public health measures, Hong Kong has demonstrated that COVID-19 transmission can be effectively contained without resorting to the highly disruptive complete lockdown adopted by China, the USA, and Western European countries," said Professor Benjamin Cowling from the University of Hong Kong who led the research.

The control measures implemented in Hong Kong in late January included intense surveillance for infections, not only for incoming travellers, but also in the

local community, with around 400 outpatients and 600 inpatients tested every day in

early March.

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