The Union health ministry reiterated the claim that India is not in the community transmission stage of the coronavirus, even as the country set another record for single-day rises on Thursday, with more than 24,000 new infections. During the community transmission stage of a pandemic, new cases cannot be traced to any source of infection.

“There have been some localised outbreaks, but India has not yet reached the community transmission stage,” Rajesh Bhushan, officer special duty, health ministry, said at a press briefing. “The World Health Organization has also not provided any standard definition of localised outbreak and community transmission. It is a dynamic and evolving situation...we are keeping abreast with the information coming from WHO on this aspect.”

India’s coronavirus tally rose to 7,67,296, with 24,879 new cases in 24 hours on Thursday morning. This is the highest single-day surge in fresh infections. The toll went up by 487 to 21,129. More than 4.76 lakh people have recovered. Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also denied there is any community transmission of the coronavirus in India, reported ANI.

Concerns about community spread strengthened after Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on June 9 that the city is likely to have 5.5 lakh infections by July 31. But Sisodia too had ruled out community transmission in the national Capital. However, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed last week that the coronavirus was now “in the community” amid the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

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At Thursday’s press briefing, the health ministry added that India still has among the lowest incidences of coronavirus if the rate of infection per million (10 lakh) is calculated, pointing to data from the World Health Organization. “If you look at cases per million population, we are the lowest,” Bhushan said. “Right now, the country has 538 cases per million, according to the World Health Organisation. Cases per million population in other countries are at least 15 to 16 times of that.”

Deaths from the coronavirus per million population in India is also lowest in the world, the health ministry spokesperson claimed. “When it comes to fatalities, the other countries have reported 40 times as many cases as India,” he added.

Bhushan said that despite a population of 1.3 billion (130 crore), India has been able to manage the coronavirus outbreak “relatively well”. “We are the second most populated [country] in the world,” he added. “Whenever we talk of the number of active cases, total cases and death count, we should keep the population in mind.”

Indian Council of Medical Research spokesperson Nivedita Gupta said that the number of coronavirus tests has increased as now, on an average, the medical body is testing more than 2.6 lakh samples per day. “ICMR has also approved the use of a rapid antigen point of care test, which is now recommended for use and also being used in the containment zones of various states and hospitals,” she added.

The Union home ministry said that the situation in Delhi has improved in the past few weeks. As of Thursday 23,452 active cases were reported in the Capital and recovery rate is over 72%, Joint Secretary Punya Srivastava said. “About 15,095 beds are now available in Delhi and as of July 8 about 68% of the beds were vacant. So, there is adequate arrangement for Delhi residents.”

Srivastava added that 6.79 lakh tests were conducted in Delhi till Wednesday and 2,000 tests are being conducted every day. Delhi has reported 1,04,864 coronavirus cases, including 3,213 deaths as of Thursday, according to the Union health ministry.