NewsMobile Explainer: How Can One COVID-19 Patient Infect 406 Others? Let’s Understand The ‘R Naught’ Factor

A study conducted by the Indian Council For Medical Research (ICMR) suggests that a COVID-19 patient can infect 406 people in 30 days if proper physical distancing measures are not adhered to.

The health ministry cited the ICMR study during a televised briefing on Monday to highlight how inability to follow COVID-19 protocols can put hundreds of others at risk.

“In this COVID-19 situation, please don’t go out unnecessarily, and even within the family wear a mask. It is very important to wear a mask. Do not invite people into your home,” Niti Aaayog’s member (health) Dr V K Paul said. “Social distancing is key and masks and sanitizers reduce risks,” he added.

“If exposure through physical distancing is reduced by 50% 1 person ends up infecting only 15 people instead of 406, reducing it by 75% means 1 individual can infect only 2.5 people. We request everyone to understand this aspect, and pay attention to both clinical management and infection control,” he explained.


Experts say the current ‘R0’ or ‘R naught’ for the coronavirus infection is somewhere between 1.5 and 4. ‘R0’ is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It tells the average number of people who will catch a disease from one infected person.

If we take the ‘R0’ to be 2.5, then one positive person can infect 406 people in 30 days, if the lockdown and social distancing measures are not in place, but if social exposure is reduced by 75 per cent then that one sick person will only be able to infect only 2.5 persons.


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