ICMR study points towards possible community transmission of coronavirus COVID-19 in India


In what could be an alarming development for India, a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has pointed towards a possible community transmission of the coronavirus COVID-19 in the country. The study shows that one-third of the people in India contracted the infection without any contact with the infected person and with no travel history to a foreign nation.

Community transmission means that the source of infection for the spread of an illness is unknown or a link in terms of contacts between patients and other people is missing. It refers to the difficulty in grasping the epidemiological link in the community beyond confirmed cases. This is different from the local transmission which means that the source of the infection has been identified within the reporting location (such as within a country, region or city).

According to the ICMR, a total of 5,911 people have been tested who had respiratory diseases but did not have coronavirus. Of these, 102 people were found who had coronavirus and 40 of them had no contact history. Such patients were found in 36 districts spread across 15 states in the country. These states need to be careful

No such case was found initially in this study that took place in March but such cases were found in April. To monitor community transmission in the country, ICMR is conducting tests of people who are not patients of coronavirus but patients of respiratory diseases i.e. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

So far, a total of 1,44,910 samples from 1,30,792 individuals was tested and 5,705 individuals have been confirmed positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases in India. On April 9, till 9 pm (IST), 16,002 samples and of these, 320 were tested positive for coronavirus.

As of April 9, 5,734 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 166 deaths have been reported in the country. 473 persons have been cured or discharged after recovery. 

The ICMR has also elaborated on the strategy for testing COVID-19 across the country especially in hotspots and evacuees centres identified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

It has directed that in the hotspots, cluster areas, large migration gatherings and evacuees centres, all symptomatic ILI (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose) will have to be tested within seven days of illness (rRT-PCR) and after 7 days of illness, an antibody test (if negative, confirmed by rRT-PCR) will be done.

For the rest of the country, the testing strategy is–all symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days, all symptomatic contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases, all symptomatic health care workers, all patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (fever AND cough and/or shortness of breath) and asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day five and day 14 of coming in his/her contact.

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