New Delhi: In view of the intense discussion on the term community transmission, the government has categorically said that India is "definitely not" in the third stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
The assertion was made by the Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Dr Balram Bhargava at the Health Ministry's regular press briefing. Community transmission, or Stage 3 of a pandemic, is marked by cases that cannot be traced to any source of infection. This is indeed alarming as it suggests that the virus has spread to such an extent that efforts at contact tracing will draw a blank.
The ICMR also officially released on Thursday its population-based Sero survey, which was in news recently for the wrong reasons. A leaked portion of the survey had said the actual number of persons infected by the dreaded coronavirus in some cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, could be 100 to 200 times the confirmed cases. This finding was made on the basis of the country's first survey on randomly selected asymptomatic persons, media reports had said.
The government, however, is adamant that there is no community transmission. It claims that only 0.73 per cent of the population in 83 districts, where the survey was conducted, had evidence of past exposure to Corona virus infection. In other words, the lockdown and containment efforts have been successful in keeping the incidence low and preventing its rapid spread.
To buttress this contention, Dr Bhargava underlined that India's COVID cases per lakh population are the lowest in the world and the number of deaths per lakh population is also among the lowest. The recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has also improved to 49.21 per cent. The Health Ministry representative further claimed that the number of patients who have recovered exceed the number of active COVID-19 patients under treatment in hospitals. The conclusion that the ICMR has drawn from the survey is that the country has to continue with effective surveillance and containment strategies.
On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said a large number of cases in Delhi could not be traced to any source, but only the Centre could declare whether the city was in a community transmission stage of the pandemic.
There are close to 30,000 COVID-19 cases in Delhi and the AAP government has assessed that there will be over 50,000 cases in 10 days and 5.5 lakh cases by July 31. Mumbai has over 45,000 virus cases. Doctors working in the city's Dharavi, Asia's largest slum, insist there is community spread in the city. The survey also found that the risk of people getting infected from COVID-19 were higher in urban areas (1.09%), higher in urban slums (1.89%) than it was in rural areas.
This is the ninth consecutive day that India has reported over 9,000 Covid-19 cases. With that, India (2.97 lakh cases) has overtaken UK (2.91 lakh) and assumed the 4th spot in the list of nations worst hit by coronavirus. India is now preceded only by Russia (4.93 lakh), Brazil (7.72 lakh) and the US (more than 20 lakh). The coronavirus numbers have been increasing exponentially since May 24, when India entered the list of top 10. It has taken just 18 days to reach the fourth slot. When on March 25 the lockdown was declared, the country had a little over 500 cases and only ten fatalities.