Health Ministry document hinting limited community spread of Covid-19 triggers alarm

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A standard operating procedure (SOP) for transporting a suspected/confirmed patient, issued by the ministry of health and family welfare on Sunday said that limit community spread of Covid-19 has begun in India .

A union health ministry document suggesting limited community transmission of the Covid-19 infection in the country has raised alarm across the country.

The warning has come in a document detailing the standard operating procedure (SOP) for transporting a suspected/confirmed patient, issued by the ministry of health and family welfare late on Sunday night.

It said that the SOP was applicable to current phase of Covid-19 pandemic in India (local transmission and limited community transmission), wherein as per plan of action, all suspect cases are admitted to isolation facilities.

India has reported 1,190 cases and 29 deaths due to the virus till Monday.

However, the Indian Medical Research (ICMR) maintained that India is still in Stage II, despite the number of cases of people with no known contact to an infected person or travel history rising over the past week.

Stage II is the local transmission phase, which means a section of people testing positive have come in contact with a positive patient having a travel history. Stage III is community transmission. Stage IV is an epidemic, when there several clusters of the infection.

Community transmission happens when the source of infection is untraced and the patient has no travel history or known contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case. It indicates that undiagnosed cases are infecting others, which is when infection clusters spiral out of control and turn into epidemics.

At a press conference later on Monday afternoon, the health ministry, however, reiterated that Covid-19 in India technically is still in local transmission stage and that there has been no community transmission so far.

Hindustan Times quoted a senior public health expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that there are pockets of community transmission in several locations in half a dozen states, but now the number of people with untraceable infection is increasing, which is a sign that community transmission has begun. He believes it is irreversible now.

There are experts who believe that community transmission of the virus had begun much earlier. T Jacob John, head of the department of clinical virology and microbiology at Christian Medical College Vellore, community transmission in India began mid-February, the report in HT said.

“Instead of splitting hair, the focus should be on preparing to be three steps ahead of the virus. It’s not a cops and robbers game, we should not be fooled into reacting to the virus but should be fooling the virus by anticipating the curve and proactively deciding what we need to do stop the spread,” said John, who is Emeritus Medical Scientist, ICMR.

Image Credit: The Statesman

 

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