There is clear evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in India. However, the Health Ministry remains adamant about ‘No community transmission’. With the increasing number of Coronavirus positive cases, the Indian government calls for social distancing to curb the spread.
Union Health Ministry Clarifies
Lav Agarwal, joint secretary at the Health Ministry said that there is no community transmission in the country yet. The statement comes after the Union Health Ministry released a document on standard operating procedures (SOP) for transporting a COVID-19 case. Further, he explained that the word- community has been used in a very limited context, that is, to highlight actions on the field.
He cautioned against going into semantics as transmission in India is still in the local transmission phase. Further, he revealed the current strategy of tackling the spread by identifying hotspots and buffer zone (the nearby areas) and deploying special teams for administering these areas.
Testing all Patients with SARI
Head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, Raman R Gangakhedkar, stated that there is nothing to panic. Though they have started testing all patients with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), this doesn’t mean that the virus is spreading rapidly. Further, he added that while some people hid their travel history, some did not even tell that they tested positive for Coronavirus, that affected the spread. Also, he urged media, not to over-interpret the situation.
Local and Community Transmission
An expert declared that there is no intermediate stage between local and community transmission. The ICMR has publicly confirmed that India is still in stage II that is when there is local transmission through coming in contact with the positive cases. Community transmission takes place when the source of transmission is not traceable as the effected does not have a contact history with a confirmed case. Limited transmission is when one or more than one person acquires infection, directly or indirectly from the same source.
Positive Cases with No Travel History
Randeep Guleria director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and head of the committee formed to test the strategy for COVID-19 cases revealed something different. He stated that they have found people with no travel history positive for COVID-19. Hence, there is community transmission at some level in India. Further, John, Emeritus Medical Scientist, ICMR stated that instead of playing games on the statements, they must focus on developing measures to control the spread.
Community Transmission Evidence
Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. Anusuya Gawli, stated that the MP government has reported five positive cases. This includes one woman from Ujjain and others from Indore. These people do not have any foreign travel history. Also, Karnataka has reported two positive cases without any foreign travel history. However, the state health department has denied of any community transmission. One of them (65 year old) has died while the other (10-month-old child) is under observation. Similarly, the Tamil Nadu health department has also confirmed one patient (54-year-old) without any travel history. Further, a 65-year-old man from Mohali (Punjab) has tested positive for the coronavirus. The man didn’t travel abroad recently. Authorities are contact tracing to find the source of the spread.
Nizamuddin Incident- The Hotspot of Coronavirus
Given the Nizamuddin event, it is feared that the Coronavirus may take the form of community transmission since people have scattered in different state’s after attending Jamaat. This has created havoc among people as it has increased the risk for the people who may have come in contact with the attendees in transit or personally. Consequently, the Centre has ordered the state governments to examine the ones entering the state after Jamaat.
Total Coronavirus Cases
Currently, India has over 2122 Coronavirus COVID-19 positive cases. Out of which 1874 active cases, 176 recovered patients and 72 deaths.
Further, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases (339) and Arunachal Pradesh has reported only one positive case.
In conclusion, India is taking steps to strengthen its health infrastructure on a war footing. There is clear evidence of community transmission so transparency from the government is necessary. It will need to continue testing after the lockdown ends to ensure that the spread is under control.