No evidence of community transmission yet, government repeats

NEW DELHI: The government reiterated on Friday once again that it has yet to find evidence from any communities in India and that the infection rate remains low, with only 2% of 16,002 samples tested on Thursday testing positive.

Also, once again, he assured that the public would be informed if the outbreak reached stage 3.

Responding to media reports that a government-controlled ICMR based on randomized sampling tests conducted on patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Diseases (SARI) indicated transmission, the ministry's joint secretary of health said the report was about studies carried out in areas where the prevalence of the disease was detected and not in new areas and that the positive rate revealed by the report was 1.8%.

Infection rate is not high, but dynamic

On Thursday, at least 16,002 samples were analyzed, of which only 320, or 2%, tested positive for Covid-19. Based on the samples collected, we can say that the infection rate is not high, although it is dynamic, said Lav Agarwal, undersecretary of the health ministry, even when he emphasized the need for social distancing.

Referring to the ICMR study showing that 40% of acute respiratory infections had reported no history of travel or contact, Agrawal said the conclusions cannot be inferred as community transmission because the tests were conducted in areas where there were cases of Covid-19 and people often cannot remember exact events. This needs further investigation, he said.

Government experts said that even a higher incidence of the disease in one area or groups does not necessarily add to community transmission. Multiple groups in an area or city with rapidly multiplying cases and transmission between them equals community transmission in stage 3.

Authorities said the government is closely monitoring trends in severe cases of flu and respiratory illnesses, the sale of medications related to these conditions, and ICU admissions. They said that an increasing incidence of the disease cannot be hidden as patients with telltale symptoms will start working in clinics and hospitals.

Meanwhile, rapid testing was allowed, and sampling also increased from around 5,000 recently to more than 15,000 per day.

“Today, the challenge is not local or community transmission, but whether we are following all precaution and containment measures. There is still no community broadcast in the country, but we must be vigilant and alert, he said.