NEW DELHI : With only about 17.5% of the reported Covid-19 patients in India being foreigners, authorities are being advised to focus their energies on the majority Indian cases in order to check the pandemic.

The virus has spread to over 15 states and Union territories now. However, foreigners have been tested positive in just five states with the bulk of them in Haryana.

The major spread in the first stage has happened mainly through Indians returning from abroad.

So far, 138 Covid-19 cases have been detected in India, of whom 113 or 82.5% are Indian nationals. Taking foreigners out of the case load equation is likely to help the government fight the domestic pandemic more effectively.

“The number of Covid-19 patients in a country is not being considered by nationality but by the disease. These patients currently in India are diseased and have a potential to further spread the infection. They are in India that is why they are part of the total count," said a senior health ministry official.

“As tourists they would have visited many places and tracing their contacts is as difficult as Indians moving in public transport," the official said.

Giridhara Babu, professor and head lifecourse epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), argued that the cases of foreigners, mostly Italians, cannot be considered under local transmission unless they continue to stay in touch with the community in India.

“The case definition is very important for diagnosis to use as a foundation. Expanding the testing and ensuring active case finding around Covid-19 patients through contact-tracing is most critical in detecting new patients early for isolation," said Babu.

“We should be expanding our diagnosis net and test more people at the community level rather than just focusing on people with travel histories abroad," Vikram Thaploo, chief executive officer of Telehealth Apollo Hospital said.

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