Coronavirus pandemic | India definitely not in community transmission stage of Covid-19...

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Home / More Lifestyle / Coronavirus pandemic | India definitely not in community transmission stage of Covid-19 spread: Govt

India is definitely not in the community transmission stage of COVID-19 spread, the government asserted on Thursday, even as cases and deaths continued to mount with the country recording the highest single-day spike of 9,996 new infections and 357 fatalities.

India’s first sero-survey to monitor the trend of coronavirus infection transmission has found that lockdown and containment measures were successful in preventing a rapid spread of COVID-19, but a large proportion of the population still remains susceptible, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balram Bhargava said at a media briefing.

The sero-survey has two parts -- “estimate fraction of population infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the general population and in containment zones of hotspot cities.

The first part has been completed and the second is ongoing, he said, adding the survey was conducted in May by the ICMR in collaboration with state health departments, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Bhargava said the study involves surveying 83 districts with 26,400 people enrolling for it so far and visit to 28,595 households. The districts were selected based on the incidence of COVID-19 cases as on April 25.

The slides that were shared with the media stated that data from 65 districts have been compiled until now.

The sero-survey has found that 0.73 per cent of the population in the districts surveyed had evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2, Bhargava said.

“Lockdown and containment (measures) have been successful in keeping it low and preventing rapid spread,” he said citing the survey.

However, it means that a large proportion of the population is still susceptible and risk is higher in urban areas (1.09 times) and urban slums (1.89 times) than rural areas, the ICMR director-general said.

The survey found that infection fatality rate is very low at 0.08 per cent.

However, infection in containment zones were found to be high with significant variations, but the survey is still ongoing, he said.

Since a large proportion of the population is susceptible and infection can spread, non-pharmacological interventions such as physical distancing, use of face mask or cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette must be followed strictly, the official said.

He also said that urban slums are highly vulnerable to the spread of the infection and local lockdown measures need to continue as already advised by the government.

The elderly, those with chronic morbidities, pregnant women and children less than 10 years of age need to be protected as they fall in the high-risk category susceptible to COVID-19, he said. Asked if India is in the community transmission phase, Bhargava said, “There is a heightened debate around this term community transmission. Having said that I think even WHO has not given a definition for it. And as we have so shown that India is such a large country and the prevalence is so low.” “The prevalence has been found to be less than 1 per cent in small districts. In urban and containment areas it may be slightly higher. But, India is definitely not in community transmission. I would like to emphasise it,” he said.

India has to continue with its strategy of testing, tracing, tracking and quarantine and continue with containment measures as success has been found up till now with those measures, Bhargava said, adding “we should not let down our guards”.

The ICMR DG’s clarification came a day after Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that there is “transmission in the community” but only the Centre can declare if it is so.

“There is transmission in the community. But if it is community transmission or not that can be declared by the Centre only. It is a technical term,” a statement quoting Jain had said. Chairman of Empowered Group One and NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul termed the study the largest sero-epidemiological survey in the world in the context of COVID-19 and said such information help fine-tune the response and strategies to deal with the COVID-19 challenge.

The results indicate the situation of the country around April 30 as antibodies against an infection takes around 15 days to develop.

The remarks by the government officials came on a day India saw the highest single-day spike of 357 fatalities and 9,996 cases, pushing the death toll to 8,102 and the nationwide tally to 2,86,579.

Addressing the briefing, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said India has 20.77 cases and 0.59 fatalities per lakh population as against 91.67 cases and 5.23 deaths globally, which is amongst the lowest in the world.

Responding to a question about patients being turned away by hospitals, especially those requiring ICU and oxygen support, Agarwal said symptomatic person or a suspect case should get in touch with states’ helpline numbers and try to access the hospital facilities as advised.

“In addition to this, we have requested the states to streamline the helpline system, provide guidance and also display the status of beds using technology,” he said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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