The Indian Medical Association on Saturday said that the coronavirus situation in India was “really bad” and the fact that the infection was now spreading to rural areas points to community transmission, ANI reported.

IMA Hospital Board of India Chairman Dr VK Monga told the news agency that India was seeing an exponential growth in the number of coronavirus cases as over 30,000 new infections were being reported each day. “This is a really bad situation for the country,” he said. “There are so many factors connected with it but overall it is now spreading to rural areas. This is a bad sign.”

Monga warned that it will be more difficult for the government to contain the coronavirus in towns and villages. “In Delhi, we were able to contain it, but what about interior parts of the country in Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Madhya Pradesh?” He added that the state governments need to coordinate with the Centre to manage the worsening health crisis.

The Union health ministry has repeatedly denied community transmission of the coronavirus in India. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, meanwhile, said on Friday that community transmission had begun in some parts of Thiruvananthapuram. On Saturday, Thiruvananthapuram was split into three critical containment zones and put under lockdown for 10 days.

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Monga also said that herd immunity and vaccines were the only way the disease can be stopped from spreading. “There have to be phases of trials and human trials, then efficacy and side effects,” he said. “Also it is important to see how long this immunity will last because most of the patients are unable to go beyond three months of immunity.”

India is presently conducting trials for two vaccine candidates. On Saturday, the ethics committee of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi gave the institute the approval to start human trials of Covaxin, the first indigenous vaccine against the coronavirus. AIIMS will begin enrollment volunteers for the trials from Monday.

India’s second vaccine candidate – Gujarat-based pharmaceutical giant Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV – also entered the human trials stage earlier this week. The clinical trials of ZyCoV will be conducted across multiple sites in India with over 1,000 subjects.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 10,77,618 on Sunday with a record 38,902 new infections. More than 26,000 people in the country have died from the coronavirus while over 6.7 lakh have recovered.