Seventeen days into the 21-day lockdown, India on Friday recorded the highest single-day spike in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, with 896 new cases and 37 deaths being reported in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases is now 6,761 (515 recovered), while the death toll has gone up to 206, of which 82 deaths were reported in the last three days.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare maintains that there is no community transmission in the country so far. And, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to speak to chief ministers to decide whether the lockdown should continue or not, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan told state health ministers that the curve usually takes “two to four weeks to flatten”.
“We have managed to control the situation to some extent… it is true that the disease has taken an extraordinary course in some states. We are now in the third week of lockdown. Normally, epidemiologists say that it takes two to four weeks to flatten the curve. We should not get impatient and not spare any effort,” Harsh Vardhan said in his video conference with state health ministers.
Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal, at his daily briefing, maintained that there is no community transmission so far. “If there is community transmission in the country, we will be the first to tell you because it is essential to bring it to your knowledge so that we can become more alert,” he said.
He was responding to questions on an ICMR study which said that 104 people of a random sample size of 5,911 people with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) were found to be COVID-19 positive. Of these, 40 did not have any history of travel or contact with a confirmed case.
“I want to bring two figures to your notice. Of the 16,000 tests yesterday, only 320 were positive – just 2%. Secondly, this study on SARI cases shows 1.8% cases positive. These are from the VRDL labs. These labs are primarily in those areas where cases have already been found. Nowhere does the study say that these are in areas where there has been not a single case. The fact that some people have no travel or contact history, it only shows that it needs further investigation,” said Agarwal.
He said there are impediments in proper contact tracing in areas with many cases.