Watch | Coronavirus Updates: Public Opinion Divided Over Community Transmission in India

Ghughuti Bulletin

According to a news report dated April 7, Mumbai’s municipal corporation said that Mumbai has reached the community transmission stage – a stage where one cannot ascertain where and when they contracted the virus. So in the community transmission stage of the virus’s spread, contact-tracing is no longer useful, and public health officials simply have to test, isolate and treat.

Apart from the BMC’s statement, data published by the ICMR on Friday suggests community transmission has indeed taken root in India despite the ICMR’s staunch denial all these weeks.

According to the paper, the ICMR tested 5,911 patients with severe acute respiratory infections admitted at 41 sentinel sites from February 15, 2020, for COVID-19. 104  of these patients tested positive for COVID-19. And of the 104, 40 people with COVID-19 did not report any recent travel abroad or contact with someone who had travelled abroad.

However, in the daily press briefing dated April 10, health ministry officials briefed the media saying that the ministry would be the first one to inform the people if and when India is in the community transmission stage. It was hinting that there is no community transmission as of now.

On the same day, April 10, the  chief minister of Punjab told journalists that out of 27 people with no travel history, “it can be said that some may be community transmission cases”.

In between such reports, public opinion remains divided. Whether there is any community transmission and necessary precautions must be taken remains unclear.

The Wire sent an email query to MoHFW but received no response.

It’s notable that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), even Italy does not have community transmission. This is because WHO defines community transmission as a situation in which a large number of cases have no travel history. But WHO doesn’t explain what “large” means. So ICMR and the MoHFW may continue to insist that India is seeing only local transmission, depending on whether it considers 40 to be a large enough number or not.

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