Community participation—not lockdowns—is key to fighting coronavirus in India

Jayaprakash Muliyil is one of India’s foremost epidemiologists, with decades of experience in the study of infectious diseases. The former principal of the Christian Medical College in Vellore spoke to about India’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the stage of community transmission, when the source of infection for a large number of patients cannot be traced to a confirmed case, has already set in the country, even though the government is reluctant to admit it. He estimates that as much as 55% of India’s population could be infected. Yet, he cautioned against adopting a strategy of “suppression” involving complete lockdowns.

“Suppression is not going to work in India in my opinion,” he said. “In an organised society, where food can be delivered into each house, it is possible, not in India… That is not my response to a public health emergency. Community participation is.”

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