- India’s COVID-19 tally as of July 21 is 11.5 lakh cases: Health Ministry
- Since July 2, India has been recording more than 20,000 cases a day
- Experts warn that community transmission has started to take place in India
New Delhi: As the numbers continue to grow in India every day, touching new single-day highs – 38,000 mark on Sunday and 40,000 in the last 24-hours, health experts warn of community transmission for COVID-19 in the country. According to the data by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India so far has reported more than 1.1 million infection cases and the number is on a continuous rise. Since the pandemic started in January the disease has reached every state and union territory in India, except Lakshadweep. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday has said that community transmission of COVID 19 infection had begun at two places in the state capital while adding that 60 per cent of all coronavirus cases in the state could be traced to local transmissions. Yet, the government continues to insist that the disease has still not reached the community transmission stage.
What Is Community Transmission?
Simply put, community transmission means that the epidemic has become so widespread in the community that it gets difficult, to determine the source of the infection. When the source and chain of infections can no longer be established then it is referred to as community transmission. According to the experts, determining the chain of infections via contact tracing is key to the containment strategy in the fight against the virus.
Speaking to NDTV about India’s current COVID-19 situation and community transmission, Dr V K Monga, the Chairman of IMA Hospital Board of India said,
What is community transmission, it is when you are not able to locate the source of the infection. Initially, for example in Delhi, we were doing contact tracing and then isolating and taking the patients to the hospital. But now, all over the country, there is no contact tracing even for the namesake is being done, so when we don’t know where the person has got this infection from then it is called community transmission. World Health Organization has said it before also that India is in community transmission stage and it is now on the government to answer why there are not declaring that the country in community transmission phase.
Talking about the daily jumps in COVID-19 numbers in India Dr Monga said,
This is now an exponential growth. Every day the number of cases is increasing by more than around 30,000. This is really a bad situation for the country. There are so many factors connected with it but overall this is now spreading to rural areas. This is a bad sign. It now shows a community spread.
He further added,
India should be cautiOUS as the cases are penetrating into towns and villages where it will be very difficult to control the situation. In Delhi, we were able to contain it, but what about interior parts of the country in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, Madhya Pradesh (which may be the new hotspots)? All these issues are very important and the state governments should take full care and seek the help of the Central government to control the situation.
Talking about how India can fight the battle against coronavirus successfully in terms of testing and vaccine, Dr Monga stated,
This is a viral disease that spreads very fast. To contain the disease there are only two options. Firstly, 70 per cent population contracts the disease and gets immune, and others is getting an immunisation. When we talk about vaccination, there have to be phases of trials then human trial, then efficacy and side effects. Also, importantly it has to be seen how long this immunity will last because most of the patients are unable to go beyond three months of immunity. Only then we can say COVID-19 vaccine has been developed, until then, states need to test and test and be super active in containing the spread of the disease.
Dr Arvind Kumar, the Chairman of the Centre for Chest Surgery at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital agrees with the claim made by IMA and said
that he was 100 per cent sure that there is community transmission in the country and that it has been there for quite some time. He said,
Community transmission has been there for quite some time. It was localised to pockets, for instance in Dharavi and several areas of Delhi, almost the whole community which was involved. There were some cases where you could clearly pinpoint the contact and there were many where you could not pinpoint the contact and it was happening. These were pockets for community transmission but no crisscross community. However, today, the infection has spread across the country. So I would 100 per cent agree with the assessment of the IMA that there is community transmission in the country today, but that’s not something which should come as a surprise. The way the cases are rising in the country, it is there for everyone to see. So, it is not a new discovery. The IMA has only stated it for everyone to see.
On the other hand, renowned epidemiologist Jayprakash Muliyil, former principal of Christian Medical College, Vellore also said that it is evident in India that community transmission has started. He added,
In India, many states are seeing community transmission, though the Indian Council of Medical Research may not admit it. Over the last few days, states are reporting hotspots in districts or one or more villages are reporting more than 100 cases across in India. For example, the Ganjam district of Odisha has reported hundreds of cases, even hospitals there are turning into COVID-19 hotbed, it is evident that community transmission has started. This situation cannot happen if there is no community transmission.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has said that it is ramping up testing facilities regularly. At present, 885 government laboratories and 368 private laboratory chains are conducting COVID-19 tests across the country. Moreover, more than 1.3 Crore (1,34,33,742) samples have been tested for Covid-19 till July 17. Of these 3,61,024 samples were tested on Friday, the ICMR said.
India’s first COVID-19 case was detected in Kerala on January 30, while the tally took 110 days to reach the one lakh mark on May 18, however, it took just 15 days for the next one lakh cases to be added for India to cross 2 lakh coronavirus cases on June 2. Whereas, the number of cases doubled to cross 4 lakh in 18 days on June 21. From 4 to now more than 11.5 lakh, India took 30 days to add 7 lakh more COVID-19 cases.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.