Ajit Mishra
Recently, there was a news item saying that China was planning to evacuate its citizens from India due to the rapidly spreading Coronavirus infection in India. This was barely three months after India had evacuated its citizens from China. Beyond the simple irony, this also signifies the rapid pace at which this pandemic has spread over the globe in three to four months. In between, several countries including Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the USA and Russia have been severely affected. India reported its first coronavirus infection on 30 January 2020, and on the eve of the lockdown, the total number of confirmed infected individuals stood at 571 (on 24th March). To contain the spread early, India went for a complete nation-wide lockdown from 25 March till 14 April, to be extended subsequently on three occasions. Against the backdrop of an inadequate health care system and very high population density in the major cities, early containment through a lockdown was a justifiable option. But the lockdown, ranked as most severe by many, had several far reaching consequences. While it enabled the State to prepare in terms of hospital beds, testing kits and other medical supplies and equipment, the economic and social consequences are huge.
Colleagues at the Institute took up the very difficult task of making assessments and reflecting on the whole exercise. Their task was made harder because for infectious diseases the situation is very dynamic and data quickly becomes obsolete. Also, there is paucity of data on other non-health indicators. The present volume collects together analyses of the impact of the pandemic and concomitant lockdown in the short-run, which will be followed up by further work as events unfold.