NEW DELHI: The return of as many as 64,000 persons, mainly Indians, just ahead of India closing international travel on Sunday prompted the government to implement a stringent lockdown, including putting some areas under curfew, in a bid to prevent the returnees from triggering a community spread.

The increase in the number of Covid- positive patients over the past week is seen as a result of more Indians with a foreign travel history coming back, a linkage acknowledged by senior health ministry and ICMR officials who are monitoring treatment and incidence of the disease.

There were concerns over people skipping home quarantine even as some 8,000 were in institutional camps for 14 days. Most of the remaining persons were in home quarantine and under watch with their details recorded in the integrated disease management system. But, nevertheless, the possibility of their movement or of those who come in their contact was a factor in enforcing isolation.

The idea, said sources, was to prevent persons under observation becoming “spreaders”. Those who develop symptoms will be treated and others who complete quarantine safely will be out of the danger zone.

This strategy is part of the strong emphasis on isolation, outlined by ICMR chief Balram Bhargava, to ensure the chain of transmission is broken. A sharp rise in cases, from the pool of foreign travellers and those who came in their contact, along with positive tests of other individuals with severe flu or pneumonia, could be an indication of community spread or a precursor to that, experts feel. The situation therefore needed pre-emptive steps like stringent lockdowns and penalties for violation.

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Report of a casual response to warnings that people should stay indoors increased concerns and it was felt that the time was ripe for officially-declared lockdowns. As of now 1,87,904 people are under observation across the country.

In Video:Covid-19 outbreak: Return of 64,000 from abroad forced lockdown

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