A government-appointed panel on COVID-19 has claimed that the pandemic hit the peak in September but the relaxations in the upcoming festive season may cause harm in India. The committee published a study titled ‘Progression of the Covid-19 pandemic in India: prognosis and lockdown impact’ in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

“If there was no lockdown, we would have had a peak that was 15 times higher in the middle of June, which would have been overwhelming. By enforcing the lockdown in March, we not only reduced the load on our system but also pushed the peak to September from the projected May-end,” IIT professor M Vidyasagar, who heads the committee, said.

According to Vidyasagar, without lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic would have infected 140+ lakh people by June. He added that the upcoming festival and winter seasons may see a rise in infection. However, no lockdown for districts or higher levels were recommended by the committee.

“Relaxation in protective measures can lead to a significant rise of up to 26 lakh infections within a month. Existing personal safety protocols need to continue in full measure. Otherwise we will see a sharp rise in infections,” Vidyasagar said.

The committee emphasised on the usage of masks and maintaining social distancing amid the virus scare.

“India has one-sixth of the world’s population (one-fifth excluding China), and one-sixth of the reported cases. However, India accounts for only 10% of the world’s deaths, and its case fatality rate of less than 2 pc is among the lowest in the world,” it said.