1 in every 10 new patients tested in India is COVID-19 positive — and that just means community transmission is underway but not everywhere

People passes through a wall painting, which is painted by Vijayawada Municipal Corporation to aware people on Coronavirus at Eluru road in Vijayawada on Sunday. Pic: Mahesh G.BCCL
  • According to Centre for Policy Research India (CPR), India’s test positivity was rising “steadily” to 5.8% while incremental test positivity almost 10% (9.96%).
  • This comes three days after Indian Council of Medical Research claimed only 0.73% of the 26,000 people surveyed in over 83 districts were exposed to coronavirus.
  • Experts have rejected the government's claim that India is not in community transmission.
  • Infact, Shahid Jameel, a leading virologist, believes India entered the community transmission “a long time ago” — but the health authorities aren’t admitting it.

Every one in ten patients being tested for coronavirus in India is found positive — signalling that India might already be in the community transmission stage.

According to Centre for Policy Research India (CPR), India’s test positivity was rising “steadily” to 5.8% while incremental test positivity almost 10% (9.96%). Test positivity is calculated by dividing the number of people by the number of samples tested, as on June 15.

This comes three days after Indian Council of Medical Research claimed only 0.73% of the 26,000 people surveyed in over 83 districts were exposed to coronavirus. However, experts have rejected the survey citing the small size of the sample.

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Former All India Institute of Medical Sciences says there’s no doubt that there has been community transmission in several parts of the country.

“With the mass exodus and the country unlocking. It has become more rapid and the diseases have reached areas where there were no cases. It is high time the government comes to fore and acknowledges it so that people become more alert and do not become complacent,” Mishra said.

Infact, Shahid Jameel, a leading virologist, believes India entered the community transmission “a long time ago” — but “the health authorities aren’t admitting it”.

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Community transmission is a stage where the authorities are not able to trace the source of contagion.

Is India in the community transmission stage?

Even though the government has repeatedly asserted that India is not in community transmission but experts think otherwise.

“We are in the stage 3 of community transmission, which is deeply entrenched now. So, if one house gets an index case, there is a big chance of a lot of people getting infected in that area, ” said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director, Ujala Cygnus Healthcare.
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According to Bajaj, there are a number of factors that have pushed us into this situation including violation of social distancing rules, huge dearth of trained staff handling ICU patients, huge shortage of nursing staff too in the hospitals, a mismanagement of patient flow in the hospitals among others.

However, Dr. Anup R Warrier — who is a Senior Consultant at Infectious Disease & Infection Control, Aster Hospitals — different states can have different test positivity rates. Thus, the whole country might not be in community transmission.

State 7-day average of testsIncrease in number of positive cases
Bihar (May 24 to May 31)2,573 to 1,7147.3% to 9.9%
Delhi (June 3 to June 11)6,540 to 5,00118.3% to 27.7%
Gujarat (May 22 to May 30)6,386 to 3,9597.5% to 9.5%
MP (May 18 to May 26)5,161 to 3,5764.0% to 6.2%
Maharashtra (May 29 to June 6)14,496 to 12,76417.6% to 20.1%
Odisha (May 24 to June 8)4,659 to 2,7981.6% to 4.6%

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“It is not really possible to make this statement on "community transmission" on a broad sense for the country. But it is very clear that in certain cities and in specific states, the rising number of positive cases plus the fact that the hospital beds are fast becoming scarce, is a definitive indication of local/community spread for that location.” Warrier added.

Dr. Manoj Goel, Director, Pulmonology at Fortis Gurgaon, says it is not accurate to say that the whole country is in community transmission.

“There are certain parts of the country like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi which are stretched and may have community transmission but India as a whole might not be in community transmission,” Dr Manoj told Business Insider.

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Getting from here to 200 million is a hop and a step compared to the journey from 100 infections this year to 10 million, said Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP)


SEE ALSO:
India’s total coronavirus cases cross 3 lakh mark — but more than half of the patients have recovered
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