New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: India is definitely not in the community transmission stage of COVID-19 spread, the government asserted on Thursday, even as cases and deaths continued to mount with the country recording the highest single-day spike of 9,996 new infections and 357 fatalities.

Addressing a joint press conference Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said, "There is a heightened debate around this term community transmission. Having said that I think even WHO has not given a definition for it. And as we have so shown that India is such a large country and the prevalence is so low."

"The prevalence has been found to be less than 1 per cent in small districts. In urban and containment areas it may be slightly higher. But, India is definitely not in community transmission. I would like to emphasise it," he added.

His remarks came on a day India saw the highest single-day spike of 357 fatalities and 9,996 cases, pushing the death toll to 8,102 and the nationwide tally to 2,86,579. According to Union Health Ministry data, the country has registered over 9,500 cases for the seventh day in a row, while the figure for casualties crossed the 300-mark for the first time.

The speculations about the community spread gained pace with huge spike in coronavirus cases in Delhi and Mumbai. Community transmission, or Stage 3 of a pandemic, is marked by cases that cannot be traced to any source of infection.

The health ministry also rejected any possibility of community spread and said that there gaps in contact tracing in containment zones, which were sealed after large number of cases were reported from that area.  

"If contact tracing isn't done properly, the authorities will face difficulty in tracing the source of infection and the cases will continue to rise in the containment zone," a ministry official said. 

The health ministry also said that the country-wide death toll is updated by compiling the data provided by the states and if the state government took more days in conducting death audit then in 2-3 days the numbers are accounted for. 

"Country-wide death report compiled based on States' data. If states take a day or two more in conducting 'death audit' & a change in numbers arises due to it, then, in next 2-3 days numbers are accounted for: Health Ministry official said. 

The ICMR further said that India's first sero-survey on COVID-19 spread has found that lockdown and containment measures were successful in preventing a rapid rise in infections, but a large proportion of the population still remains susceptible. 

The sero-survey has two parts -- estimating the fraction of population that has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in general population and estimating the fraction of population that has been infected with the coronavirus in containment zones of hotspot cities, Bhargava said.

The first part has been completed and the second is ongoing, he said, adding that the survey was conducted in May by the ICMR in collaboration with state health departments, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Bhargava said the study involves surveying a total of 83 districts with 26,400 people enrolling for it and 28,595 households visited. The slides that were shared with the media stated that data from 65 districts has been compiled till now and the data is based on incidence of reported COVID-19 cases as on April 25.

The sero-survey has found that 0.73 per cent of the population in the districts surveyed had evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2 , Bhargava added.

Posted By: Talib Khan