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‘Lockdown in India was early, far-sighted and courageous’: WHO envoy

There is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will disappear, says Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) special envoy on the disease, adding that people may have to consider new norms for the foreseeable future. Declaring a lockdown when there was relatively a small number of cases in India gave the country time to come to terms with the new virus, he tells Sanchita Sharma in an interview. Edited excerpts:

Do you think Covid-19 can be stopped?

If you don’t get in early and the outbreaks grow, they get very, very big very quickly and then managing them is a massive and a very taxing task. So, where you have countries with not many cases and strong, robust responses at the community level supported by governments, we are most hopeful.

Everything starts at the community level, detecting people with disease and isolating them, finding their contacts and quarantining them, and maintaining, as far as possible, a ready state to respond to outbreaks very quickly, and widespread efforts to reduce opportunities of transmission through lockdowns. During a lockdown, you must build community capacity for interrupting transmission where its starts -- in local communities -- and I see it recognised in India.

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