community transmission in India and that the rate of infection remains low with just 2% of 16,002 samples tested on Thursday testing positive.
It also, once again, gave an assurance that the public would be informed if the
coronavirus outbreak reached Stage 3 spread.
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Responding to media reports that a study by the government-controlled ICMR based on random sampling tests conducted on patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses (SARI) indicated community transmission, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said that the report dealt with studies conducted in areas where 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 not high, yet dynamic’
At least 16,002 samples were tested on Thursday, 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,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said even as he emphasised the need for social distancing.
Referring to the ICMR study that shows 40% of SARI cases had not reported travel or contact history, Agrawal said the conclusions cannot be inferred as community transmission because the tests were conducted in areas where there were Covid-19 cases and people are often not able to recall exact events. “This needs further investigation,” he said.
Government experts said even a higher incidence of the disease in an area or clusters does not necessarily add up to community transmission. Several clusters in an area or a city with rapidly multiplying cases and transmission between them amount to community transmission at stage 3.
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Officials said the government is closely monitoring trends of serious cases of flu and respiratory diseases, sale of drugs relating to these conditions, and admissions in ICUs. They said a rising incidence of the disease cannot be hidden as patients with tell-tale symptoms will begin crowding clinics and hospitals.
Meanwhile, rapid testing has been permitted and sampling has also increased from around 5,000 a short while ago to more than 15,000 a day now.
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“Today, the challenge is not local or community transmission, but whether we are following all the precautionary and containment measures. There is no community transmission in the country yet, but we need to remain aware and alert,” he said.
No community transmission of Covid-19 yet, says Health Ministry