Prime Minister Narendra Maudie, in his speech to the nation on March 19, called for a new era in the country. March asked the elderly to stay indoors for a few weeks to protect themselves against infection with the coronavirus (Covid-19), and also asked the others not to dare to work in a trivial way.
The LMP’s call is in line with the current medical knowledge of public health experts and researchers to reverse the tide of a global pandemic that has recently infected 275,452 people worldwide.
Although there have been conflicting reports on the link between age and susceptibility to the virus, statistics from some of the most affected countries show that elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions are more likely to die or develop serious complications, while young people, who are often asymptomatic, are more likely to transmit the virus and are highly contagious.
A study conducted this week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while young people are not insured for serious diseases requiring hospitalization, the percentage of people admitted to hospital increases with age.
These data are relevant for India, where young people are responsible for the majority of reported Kovid 19 infections. The four deaths of Kovid-19 in India are of people over 60 years of age.
This means that even if the elderly stay at home and the young people only go to essential work, the elderly are still likely to be infected with the virus, especially in India, where many people live in multi-generation families.
According to United Nations data, the average Indian household consists of 4.8 members. This is the highest percentage of the ten countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In China and Italy, where the number of cases was highest, there were 3.5 and 2.4 members per household respectively.
According to the Fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), conducted between 2015 and the age of 16, four out of ten Indian households were non-nuclear.
The fact that a significant number of Indian households are not atomic families also means that many of them are multi-generational, which means that members of different age groups live together.
Analysis of NFHS data by the Hindustan Times shows that in one in three households in India there is at least one elderly person (aged 60 and over) and at least one younger person. In addition, 17% of households had at least one member of all major age groups – a child under 10, a person aged 10 to 60 and a person aged 60 or over.
This means that even if only one young family member leaves home to carry out basic tasks, such as buying food or medicine, many older people remain vulnerable when they return home with younger family members.
In addition, there are about 4.3% of households where only the elderly live, which in many cases means that they have no choice but to leave their home for basic work.
The percentage of households with at least one elderly person and one non-resident differs between States and regions of the Union, with the highest rates in Lakshadwep and Kerala (over 40 percent) and the lowest in Arunachal Pradesh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli (about 17 percent). In the capital New Delhi, a quarter of households had at least one parent and one younger member.
As there are 258 confirmed cases in the country, safety measures, including surface disinfection and regular disinfection/handwash, should be reinforced.