Coronavirus outbreak: A simulation module to help tackle COVID-19

Updated: Apr 22, 2020, 07:18 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Researchers at TIFR and IISc-Bangalore create a simulation module of cities which can help local administrations in curbing the novel Coronavirus spread and thereby avoid the second wave

The simulator has been used with data from Bengaluru and Mumbai
The simulator has been used with data from Bengaluru and Mumbai

A team of researchers at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore have created a simulation module of cities. This virtual module is expected to give a broad idea of how certain policy decisions will affect the city at ground level. After the module is built, TIFR will be approaching the Mumbai administration to make use of this modern technology while taking decisions regarding controlling the novel Coronavirus spread."

The simulator creates or builds a fine-grained replica of a city and mimics various interaction spaces such as households, schools, and workplaces. The module also takes into account the population densities, age distribution and household size distribution among others and seeks to assess the effects of various regulatory interventions on the progression of the disease in the city. Measures considered in the study include isolation of confirmed cases, home quarantine, social distancing for those aged above 65, full and partial closures of workplaces and schools, and various combinations of these measures over different timeframes.

Currently, the simulator has been used with data from Bengaluru and Mumbai, but it is flexible enough to be extended to other cities.

Prof Sandeep Juneja, a researcher at TIFR who has been part of the team, explained, "This simulator allows creating a replica of any city in virtual mode. The tool developed by us offers different combinations of regulations that can be implemented during this pandemic. With each intervention, the administration can gauge how their policies are going to impact in the real world and thus help them make more effective decisions. In Bengaluru, the talks are already on to begin use of this module while TIFR too is beginning talks with the administration for the same purpose."

Preliminary results suggest that to prevent a second wave of infection after the current lockdown, aggressive steps for tracing, isolation and containment of cases during the lockdown are needed, so as to minimise the spread of the infection in the city at the time lockdown restrictions are eased.

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