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Comprehensive public health evaluation of lockdown as a non-pharmaceutical intervention on COVID-19 spread in India: national trends masking state-level variations

Objectives To evaluate the effect of four-phase national lockdown from March 25 to May 31 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in India and unmask the state-wise variations in terms of multiple public health metrics. Design Cohort study (daily time series of case counts). Setting Observational and population based. Participants Confirmed COVID-19 cases nationally and across 20 states that accounted for >99% of the current cumulative case counts in India until 31 May 2020. Exposure Lockdown (non-medical intervention). Main outcomes and measures We illustrate the masking of state-level trends and highlight the variations across states by presenting evaluative evidence on some aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak: case fatality rates, doubling times of cases, effective reproduction numbers and the scale of testing. Results The estimated effective reproduction number R for India was 3.36 (95% CI 3.03 to 3.71) on 24 March, whereas the average of estimates from 25 May to 31 May stands at 1.27 (95% CI 1.26 to 1.28). Similarly, the estimated doubling time across India was at 3.56 days on 24 March, and the past 7-day average for the same on 31 May is 14.37 days. The average daily number of tests increased from 1717 (19–25 March) to 113 372 (25–31 May) while the test positivity rate increased from 2.1% to 4.2%, respectively. However, various states exhibit substantial departures from these national patterns. Conclusions Patterns of change over lockdown periods indicate the lockdown has been partly effective in slowing the spread of the virus nationally. However, there exist large state-level variations and identifying these variations can help in both understanding the dynamics of the pandemic and formulating effective public health interventions. Our framework offers a holistic assessment of the pandemic across Indian states and union territories along with a set of interactive visualisation tools that are daily updated at covind19.org.