Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the coronavirus has not reached the “community level” in India till now, even as the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed by the central government rose to 195, PTI reported. He made the claim in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Budget Session.
Vardhan told the House that a “well-defined protocol” has been laid down by the Centre based on scientific advice on who needs to be screened for the infection. Measures have been taken for detailed tracing of contact transmission and the Indian Council for Medical Research is conducting tests, he added.
He assured the parliamentarians that the government was trying to use “good information” in the best way possible to contain the outbreak. “We are in touch with everything going on the research front,” he said.
On Thursday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said all samples taken to monitor community transmission of the novel coronavirus had tested negative. “Till date [Thursday], a total of 826 samples of the people suffering from severe acute respiratory infection /influenza like illnesses have been tested at the sites,” the council said in a statement. “However, none of the samples tested positive.”
The medical body also said that in view of the evolving nature of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, it would expand its surveillance on cases of community transmission to include a wider range of areas, with emphasis on regions where cases of the infection have been previously reported.
The health ministry in a press conference on March 12 had claimed that India had not experienced any community transmission of the coronavirus. “Luckily for India, we do not have community transmission,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, had said. “We have only a few cases that have come from outside and have primarily infected their family members.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged citizens to face the coronavirus pandemic with collective determination and patience, to make sure that “humanity and India prevails”.
COVID-19 has infected more than 244,000 people worldwide and killed over 10,000, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University, which is live-tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.