74% citizens believe a one-month complete lockdown in high virus load districts is needed to contain COVID-19 spread in India
- • LocalCircles polls in 14 high virus load districts suggest majority of the citizens in these districts are in favour of a one month complete lockdown
June 15, 2020, New Delhi: In India’s fight against COVID-19, ‘Unlock 1.0’ has been the step change after small accumulative relaxations given via lockdowns 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. With malls, hotels, restaurants, places of worship being allowed to re-open and offices permitted to operate with 100% capacity to push economic activity, the idea was to kickstart the economic engine.
However, while the lockdown has been relaxed, average cases have surpassed 11,000 a day in Unlock 1.0 phase compared to lockdown 4.0 when average cases were at about 5000 a day. India now has over 330,000 cases. In some areas, COVID positive rate is over 60% meaning that 2 in 3 individuals tested is being found to be positive. This has led to several concerns amongst many about whether our districts and states are testing enough. While proactive testing is limited in most parts of the country, hundreds of cases have been reported from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai where people have struggled to get a test done, get results timely, find an ICU bed and secure admission. Mumbai and Delhi have also reported shortage of healthcare workers, broken processes to access beds as well as overcharging by private hospitals. All of this has left a single most important question in the minds of the common citizenry. Is India’s healthcare infrastructure in high virus load districts ready to handle a surge in cases that Unlocking can bring? So far, most feel it isn’t.
After thousands of posts and comments were received from citizens across India on LocalCircles, it decided to conduct a survey to get citizen pulse on what could be done to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and if a further lockdown should be implemented in the high virus load districts of the country. The survey received around 46,000 votes from people residing in over 220 districts of the country. A national survey was done along local surveys in 14 of the high virus load districts. A total of 76% participants in the exercise were from the high virus load districts.
With the average number of COVID-19 cases in India rising to approximately 11,000 per day and health infrastructure unable to cope up in most places, people were asked if they believe a complete one month lockdown needs to be implemented in the top 15 High Virus Load districts which currently contribute 64% of the cases in India. 74% answered in a yes, while 22% answered in a no.
In a previous LocalCircles poll, citizens were asked this question on May 3rd and 74% wanted a complete lockdown in these high virus load districts. This number slipped to 45% on May 12th and again rose to 72% on May 28th. Despite the citizens being against opening of lockdown in the high virus load districts, the Government announced significant relaxations via Unlock 1.0 and when the question was posed to citizens on June 12th, 74% voted for a complete one month lockdown in the high virus load districts.
Unlock 1.0: 74% citizens believe a one month complete lockdown in 15 high virus load districts is needed to contain COVID-19 spread in India
Unlock 1.0 Citizen Pulse: Percentage of citizens in favour of complete lockdown in high virus load districts rises to 74%
This shows that majority citizens believe a one-month complete lockdown in 15 high virus load districts is needed to contain COVID-19 spread in India. While people continue to be fully supportive of getting economic activity going in green and orange zones, the view for high virus load districts is clearly different and that of imposing restrictions. According to people, the only thing that should move in these districts is goods to people and all activity including opening of essentials, offices, non-essential factories must be kept shut.
People in mid-May were supportive of relaxations in high virus load districts but looking at the rapid rise in cases and the poor state of health infrastructure has led to people changing their opinions.
The top 15 districts with highest virus load as identified by Niti Aayog include, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Thane, Pune, Indore, Kolkata, Jaipur, Surat, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Jodhpur, Gurugram and Chengalpattu.
Citizens from most of the high virus load districts are in favour of a one month complete lockdown
LocalCircles asked citizens in 14 of the high virus load districts whether a one month complete lockdown is needed in their respective district at this junction to contain the spread of COVID-19, percentage of citizens that responded with a YES were Delhi (79%), Mumbai (64%), Chennai (61%), Ahmedabad (73%), Thane (50%), Pune (60%), Indore (67%), Kolkata (52%), Gurugram (59%), Jaipur (53%), Surat (57%), Aurangabad (80%) and Jodhpur (75%). This clearly indicates that people who live in these districts, majority of them feel a complete lockdown is need of the hour and at this point the only way to contain spread of COVID-19 in their district.
Citizens were also asked besides the high virus load districts, what should be the approach to contain the COVID-19 spread in districts with week over week case growth and over 100 active cases. In response, 23% said that there should be a complete lockdown while 59% said there should be a partial lockdown where all public places are shut. 14% said there should be no lockdown at all in such districts.
Unlock 1.0: 82% citizens believe atleast a partial lockdown is needed in districts experiencing week over week increase in COVID-19 cases and having 100 active cases
This means that 82% citizens believe atleast a partial lockdown is needed in districts experiencing week over week increase in COVID-19 cases and having 100 active cases.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently said that India is not in the community transmission stage. However, a day ahead of ICMR statement, the Delhi Health Minister stated that the Delhi Government does not know the source of infection in 50% of the Delhi cases. Various global experts and Indian experts have a view contrary to that of ICMR suggesting that community transmission has been happening for a while in some of the high virus load districts in India.
While the Government is trying to balance between getting the economy back on track and controlling the spread of COVID-19, it is very clear that majority of the citizens feel that India is not equipped to handle a surge in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and several others.
Hence, instead of a partial lockdown or some restrictions like in Unlock 1.0, according to the survey, the need of the hour is to impose the complete lockdown in these 15 high viral load districts, ensuring people stay where they are for a month and this will likely lead to breaking the chain.
LocalCircles will submit the findings of this survey to Senior Officials in the Central Government and to the Chief Secretaries of various states so due consideration can be given to the collective citizen opinion on containing the spread of COVID-19.
46,000+ responses were received from 221 districts of India. 68% respondents were men while 32% respondents were women. 49% respondents were from tier 1, 36% from tier 2 and 15% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. They survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.