India, unlocking, is among 15 high-risk nations: Study
India is among a group of 15 high-risk countries where relaxing lockdowns could lead to a spike in new infections, creating a situation which, “in the extreme case”, could lead to stringent curbs being re-imposed, an analysis by securities research firm Nomura has said.
The analysis, which covers 45 major economies, takes into account case trajectories and mobility trends to determine the impact movement of people will have on new cases.
“Our visual tool has yielded a mixed bag of results: 17 countries are on track with respect to reopening economies with no sign of second wave; 13 countries showing some tentative warning signs; and 15 countries in danger zone of being most at risk of a second wave” the report said.
According to the analysis, lifting lockdowns will lead to either of two potential scenarios. “In the first (good) scenario, a country or US state experiences a quick recovery in people mobility. Lockdown measures become relaxed, and businesses resume operations with minimal increases in the number of new daily cases, resulting in an ease in public fear and further increase in people mobility. As the number of new cases declines, a positive feed-back loops kicks in,” the analysis said.
“On the other hand, the second (bad) scenario is characterised by a much ‘flatter’ curve. The reopening of the economy is associated with an acceleration in the number of new daily infections, growing public fear and ceasing people mobility; in extreme cases, lockdowns would be reimposed,” it added.
The analysis divides the 45 countries into three groups: those ‘on track’, facing ‘warning signs’, or are in the ‘danger zone’. India falls in the danger zone, along with several other low-to-middle income countries such as Indonesia, Chile and Pakistan. Some of the advanced economies in this group are Sweden, Singapore, South Africa and Canada.
Among those on track are France, Italy and South Korea, while countries like Germany, United States and United Kingdom face risks.
The projections come at a time when most of these nations are easing restrictions in order to allow people to get back to work following what has been an unprecedented erosion of earnings and employment in many regions.
The World Health Organization urged countries to press on with efforts to contain the virus and that now “is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal”.
In India, malls, restaurants and religious places opened on Monday for the first time since March 25 as most parts of the country rolled out new guidelines that are part of the government’s “unlocking” plan.
Economists have expressed concerns that another lockdown of the nature seen before the unlock measures kicked in will not be feasible unless the government announces adequate interventions to protect jobs and earnings.