Home/ News / India/  COVID-19: Most cases in India related to travel

NEW DELHI : India has 73 positive cases of COVID-19 and most are travel associated, with no record of community transmission yet, the Union health ministry said on Thursday.

“Most of the infected are those who had travelled to the infected countries. They later transmitted the infection to their close relatives and family members, which is local transmission. But we are not in the stage of community transmission yet," said Lav Aggarwal, joint health secretary, while addressing reporters.

Aggarwal said the government has traced as many as 1,500 contacts of the 73 who have tested positive for the infection, including the three who have recovered, and has been continuously monitoring them at various places in the country.

"All patients are clinically stable. We have not resorted to any specific treatment and are managing them symptomatically," he said.

The government has also directed all incoming international passengers returning to India to self-monitor their health and follow required Do’s and Don’ts as detailed by the authorities.

Aggarwal said India has the requisite testing facilities to screen suspected cases and measures had already been taken before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

“As of now, we have one lakh testing kits and more are being procured. There are 52 laboratories where testing is taking place and 56 collection centres for samples across the country. The strategy is that, people who need to be tested should be tested, which is largely based on symptoms, travel history and contact with infected persons," he said.

The health officials also said the private sector has not yet been roped in for conducting tests, as there are enough government facilities but decisions will be taken as the situation evolves. "In case of isolation beds, we have had talks with the private sector, and we ask them to collaborate as and when required," he said.

The WHO on Wednesday declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Since it was first reported in China's Wuhan in December, about 126,660 people have worldwide have been affected by the disease, with death toll at 4,641. Iran is the worst hit country after China and Italy.

"So far there is no evidence that we are missing any case as such. Since we belong to science we would like to see evidence that, yes, we are missing cases. It is just speculation that we are missing cases, but that still has to be proved... Our measure of surveillance is so strong, contact tracing is so strong (that) any symptomatic person is being tested. Any person who might get hospitalised, and in the worse case scenario dies, all those contacts...it would have been picked up. But we don't know of any case which we have missed."

"ICMR would be starting a surveillance to try and find out whether such a possibility does exist in order to look at that," ICMR scientist Raman R. Gangakhedkar said at the press conference.

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Updated: 12 Mar 2020, 11:53 PM IST
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