‘Covid-19 community transmission well-established’: Experts

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A joint statement by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists has also criticised the government’s handling of the outbreak and the failure to consult epidemiologists about the disease.

Prominent public health experts, including two members of a research group constituted by the National Task Force set up by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), have refuted the Centre’s claim that the country has not yet reached the community transmission stage of coronavirus.  

A joint statement by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists has also criticised the government’s handling of the outbreak and the failure to consult epidemiologists about the disease.

The statement signed by Dr DCS Reddy, a former professor at the Banaras Hindu University and Dr Shashi Kant, professor and head of community medicine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, was submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 25.

The experts said that community transmission of the coronavirus infection has been well-established across large sections or sub-populations in the country. They said that the coronavirus cases have increased exponentially despite India’s “draconian lockdown”, adding that clinicians and academic epidemiologists with limited field training and skills, who have been advising the government, had ignored enough scientific and evidence-based interventions available to control the spread of the infection.

“India is paying a heavy price both in terms of humanitarian crisis and disease spread. The incoherent and often rapidly shifting strategies and policies especially at the national level are more a reflection of ‘afterthought’ and ‘catching up’ phenomenon on part of the policy makers rather than a well thought cogent strategy with an epidemiologic basis.”

The statement said that it was unrealistic to expect that Covid-19 pandemic can be eliminated at this stage given that community transmission is already well-established across large sections or sub-populations in the country.

The signatories said the Centre should have approached epidemiologists following the outbreak for a better understanding of the disease. “Had the government of India consulted epidemiologists who had better grasp of disease transmission dynamics compared to 4 modelers, it would have perhaps been better served,” the statement said (with inputs from PTI)

Image Credit: PTI  

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