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Barbell and 5T Strategy: Economic Survey Sums up India's Approach to Handling Coronavirus Pandemic

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The survey further noted that the clear objective of ‘Jaan Hai to Jahan hai’ and to ‘break the chain of spread’ before it reaches ‘community transmission’ helped the government face the dilemma of ‘lives vs livelihood’, pace the sequence of policy interventions and adapt its response as per the evolving situation.

The Economic Survey 2020-21 tabled in Parliament on Friday summed up the Centre's approach to containing the spread of the coronavirus under two main heads -Barbell strategy in finance and 5T strategy.

"Indian policymakers followed an approach similar to the Barbell strategy in finance, hedging for the worst outcome initially, and updating its response step-by-step via feedback," said the survey.

The survey further noted that the clear objective of ‘Jaan Hai to Jahan hai’ and to ‘break the chain of spread’ before it reaches ‘community transmission’ helped the government face the dilemma of ‘lives vs livelihood’, pace the sequence of policy interventions and adapt its response as per the evolving situation.

India was amongst the first of the countries that imposed a national lockdown when there were only 500 confirmed cases. "The stringent lockdown in India from 25 March to 31 May was necessitated by the need to break the chain of the spread of the pandemic. This was based on the humane principle that while GDP growth will come back, human lives once lost cannot be brought back," said the survey.

The Centre as earlier said that the 40-day lockdown period was used to scale up the necessary medical and para-medical infrastructure for active surveillance, expanded testing, contact tracing, isolation and management of cases, and educating citizens about social distancing and masks, etc.

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 "The lockdown provided the necessary time to put in place the fundamentals of the '5 T' strategy - Test, Track, Trace, Treat, Technology. As the first step towards timely identification, prompt isolation & effective treatment, higher testing was recognized as the effective strategy to limit the spread of infection,"  the survey noted.

Elaborating on tests, the survey said that at the onset of the pandemic in January 2020, India did less than 100 COVID-19 tests per day at only one lab. "However, within a year, 10 lakh tests were being conducted per day at 2305 laboratories. The country reached cumulative testing of more than 17 crores in January 2021. The sharp decline in the number of days to add the next cumulative 1 crore tests show the dedicated efforts to expand the testing infrastructure."

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