‘India still in local transmission stage’ - Govt.in - Telling the truth- always!
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‘India still in local transmission stage’

NEW DELHI: Covid-19 outbreak in India remains in ‘local transmission’ stage and any evidence of ‘community transmission’ will be shared with the public so that the level of alertness can be increased, the government said seeking to put at rest speculations about a wider spread of the virus.
“It is only local transmission in the country. If there is a community transmission, we will be the first to tell you as we would want to covey it to the community through you (media) to increase the level of alertness and management for Covid-19 at the field level,” health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said.
The clarification comes in the wake of a government document detailing standard operating procedures (SOP) for transporting a suspected case of coronavirus or Covid-19. “This SOP is applicable to the current phase of COVID-19 pandemic in India (local transmission and limited community transmission),” the document said, the words in the bracket sending speculation soaring about government announcing community spread.
“We have to get out of these semantics. We have used the word in a very limited context in a way to highlight what we are going to do in terms of action at field. Nowhere we said we have community transmission. It is only local transmission in the country. The document very clearly mentions that we are in a phase of local transmission,” Agarwal said.
Government officials said that criticism that India is not testing enough fail to take into account the effort being made to test all serious cases of respiratory distress and ICU patients with SARI (severe acute respiratory infections) and that state governments of all political hues are involved in the exercise. They pointed out that any significant increase in Covid-19 patients cannot go unnoticed as they would turn up at clinics and hospitals. It was unlikely that with so many medical professionals and agencies involved such a development remains a secret.
The government has so far maintained that there is no clear evidence of the virus spreading into the community where the links of transmission cannot be traced. This even as there are sporadic cases of severe respiratory infection testing positive for Covid-19 without travel or contact history. Similarly, on Monday, Dr Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medicl Research (ICMR) said some asymptomatic cases have tested positive but are not enough to indicate community transmission.
In both the cases – SARI and asymptomatic cases testing positive – ICMR has maintained that the sample size is miniscule to consider them as evidence to community spread. So far, India has tested 38,442 samples for COVID-19. The government and ICMR maintains that there is adequate testing capacity to ramp up testing sample size if required.
According to Dr Gangakhedkar, India is currently using only 30% of its testing capacity in public laboratories. There are a total of 115 public laboratories with capability to test over 12,000 samples a day. In addition to this, the Council has also approved 47 private labs which conducted 1,334 tests in last three days.
However, some experts are of the view that it is time for India to ramp up testing now to convincingly rule out community transmission based on larger sample size and secondly, to be able to use healthcare and financial resources in a more targeted way.
“We need frontload of testing. The testing protocol now has to become more aggressive and stratified. We have the capacity to test and to reserve for a time when we reach the stage of community transmission is pointless,” says Shamika Ravi, director of research at Brookings India.

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