India implemented a national mandatory lockdown policy (Lockdown 1.0) on 24 March 2020 in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The policy was revised in three subsequent stages (Lockdown 2.0-4.0 between 15 April to 18 May 2020), and restrictions were lifted (Unlockdown 1.0) on 1 June 2020. This study evaluated the effect of lockdown policy on the COVID-19 incidence rate at the national level to inform policy response for this and future pandemics. We conducted an interrupted time series analysis with a segmented regression model using publicly available data on daily reported new COVID-19 cases between 2 March 2020 and 1 September 2020. National-level data from Google Community Mobility Reports during this timeframe were also used in model development and robustness checks. Results showed an 8% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 6-9%] reduction in the change in incidence rate per day after Lockdown 1.0 compared to prior to the Lockdown order, with an additional reduction of 3% (95% CI = 2-3%) after Lockdown 4.0, suggesting an 11% (95% CI = 9-12%) reduction in the change in COVID-19 incidence after Lockdown 4.0 compared to the period before Lockdown 1.0. Uptake of the lockdown policy is indicated by decreased mobility and attenuation of the increasing incidence of COVID-19. The increasing rate of incident case reports in India was attenuated after the lockdown policy was implemented compared to before, and this reduction was maintained after the restrictions were eased, suggesting that the policy helped to 'flatten the curve' and buy additional time for pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.
Keywords: COVID-19; India; interrupted time series analysis; lockdown policy; mobility; social distancing.
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