New Delhi: India is still in the local transmission stage of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said today, responding to questions about a health ministry document that said the country was currently in "local transmission and limited community transmission phase."
"Nowhere are we calling it community transmission. We are still in the local transmission stage. If we use the word 'community' then there is speculation," said Luv Agarwal of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
"Kindly allow us to use the word community but not in the context you have interpreted. Our country is in the local transmission stage," the official stressed.
India has close to 1,100 coronavirus cases, including 29 deaths.
Last evening, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released a document detailing SOPs 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.
Of the four stages, Stage 1 is when cases are imported from affected countries. Only those who travelled abroad test positive.
The government says India is still on Stage 2, when there is local transmission from infected persons. For example, relatives or acquaintances of those who travelled abroad. In local transmission, less people are affected. The source of the virus is known and it is easier to trace the chain, as opposed to community transmission.
Stage 3 or community transmission is when a patient not exposed to any infected person or one who has not travelled to any of the affected countries tests positive. At this stage, people detected positive are unable to identify where they got the virus from. Experts fear that if India comes to this stage, the rise will be staggering and hard to control.
The country has been on total lockdown since last Tuesday in an attempt to arrest the rapid spread of the disease, which has cause over 30,000 deaths worldwide and forced several countries to shut down.
"In the lockdown stage we saw that it took us 12 days between 100 cases and 1,000 cases. In other countries, 3,000 -5,000 cases have been found. We have received some positive results due to social distancing," said Luv Agarwal.
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