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India hasn’t entered community transmission stage: Health ministry

While India on Thursday recorded 26,128 fresh covid-19 cases taking the total tally to 77,1603, government continued to deny the onset of community transmission in the country.
“There is no sign of community transmission of covid-19 in India. However, we have localised outbreaks in certain geographical areas. Out of 733 districts, only 49 districts account for 80% of covid-19 cases,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Officer-on-Special Duty, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a press conference adding that this has also been clarified by the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan as well, during the 18th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on covid-19.

“Further, 49 districts alone account for 80% of covid-19 cases in the country. By following the contact tracing protocols, we are able to trace and track all close contacts of reported covid-19 cases within 72 hours. In such a scenario, it is not justified to say that there is community transmission,” Bhushan added.

The GoM was apprised that within the country, eight states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat) contribute to around 90% of the active caseload and 49 districts account for 80% of active caseload, as of today. Moreover, six states (Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) account for 86% of total deaths, and 32 districts account for 80% deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday acknowledged the emerging evidence of airborne spread of the novel coronavirus after an open letter by over 200 scientists outlined evidence that showed floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in. As India is continuously witnessing increasing number of cases, the concern of community transmission has further increased after the WHO admission.

“It is an evolving situation and that the Union Health Ministry is keeping itself abreast on this particular aspect. Maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet, as is being repeatedly advised by the Centre, will help us in containing the spread of the infection,” Bhushan said. India has recorded an increased recovery rate among covid-19 patients. The gap between active covid-19 cases and recovered cases is progressively increasing in the country. As on July 9, 2020, the recovery rate stands at 62.09%, Bhushan said.

India has so far recorded 21172 deaths so far. Presenting an analysis of covid-19 deaths vis-a-vis population in terms of age groups, Bhushan said, 15% of covid-19 deaths have occurred in people below 45 years of age, while 53% deaths have been among senior citizens. The high-risk population are those aged above 45 years who form 25% of the country’s population, but 85% of all covid-19 deaths have occurred in this group. “Further, more than half (53%) of deaths have been reported among people above 60 years of age, who form only 10% of the country’s population,” Bhushan said.

With increasing burden of the highly infectious disease, the government said that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is planning to do a pan India serological study, as a follow-up to the sero-survey conducted earlier. “Any symptomatic person who has been tested as negative for covid-19 based on a rapid antigen test must go for an RT-PCR test,” said Bhushan. The ICMR said that private labs have now been allowed to apply for National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accreditation and in parallel submit their application to ICMR, so that accreditation can be completed in a month and covid-19 testing may start.

As far as the vaccine is concerned, Bhushan said that two entirely indigenous Indian vaccine candidates – COVAXIN by Bharat Biotech Ltd. and ZyCov-D by Zydus Cadila – have concluded animal toxicity studies after approval and the toxicity data has been shared with Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). “They will now go for human trials. DCGI has asked drug manufacturers to set up 24/7 helplines where patients & caregivers can contact in case of non-availability or overcharging of drugs. They have also been asked to put their distribution network details on their websites,” said Bhushan. – Livemint

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