New Delhi: Insisting that COVID-19 is still in the local transmission stage in India, the Health Ministry on Monday, March 30 said it took 12 days for cases of infection to rise from 100 to 1,000 in the country and the rate of increase has been slower than some of the developed nations. The ministry, however, in its Standard Operating Procedure issued on Sunday for transporting a COVID-19 case, had mentioned the current phase of the pandemic as "local transmission and limited community transmission". "This SOP is applicable to current phase of COVID-19 pandemic in India (local transmission and limited community transmission), wherein as per plan of action, all suspect cases are admitted to isolation facilities. These procedures are meant to guide and be used for training ambulance drivers and technicians in transporting COVID19 patients," it read. But Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal reiterated on Monday that that there has been no community transmission and instead of panicking, stressed on the need to create awareness about the respiratory ailment. "Technically, COVID-19 is still in the local transmission stage in the country as there has been no community transmission as of now," he said, adding, "If there will be a community transmission we will want to convey it to the community through you (media) to increase the level of alertness and management for the infection at the field level." Addressing the daily press briefing, Agarwal said 92 new cases and four deaths due to the virus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29. "It took 12 days for cases to rise from 100 to 1,000 in our country, whereas seven other developed nations having lesser population than us have seen multiple increase," he said. Agarwal attributed the slow pace of rise in cases in India to people's participation in strictly following the social-distancing guidelines and the collective preemptive actions taken by the Centre in tandem with state governments. Underlining the importance of social distancing, he said even one person's carelessness can lead to the spread of this pandemic. Speaking at the same press conference, Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, said 38,442 tests have been conducted till now, out of which 3,501 were done on Sunday. He said 47 private laboratories have been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests and in the last three days, 1,334 tests have been done in private labs, he said. "It is still below 30 per cent of or testing capacity," he said. On reports about death of doctors due to heart attack apparently after consumption of Hydroxychloroquine recommended by ICMR for healthcare workers taking care of COVID-19 patients, Gangakhedkar said they do not have details of the cases. "We do not have full details of the case but anyone dying due to cardiac arrest after taking two doses seems a pretty difficult calculation unless they already had an increased QT interval or had cardiac issues. It is difficult for me to say anything as I do not know the profile of the patient." Over several people being allegedly quarantined in a particular area in Delhi's Nizamuddin after they showed symptoms of coronavirus infection, Agarwal said they initiate action as per the protocol. Be it in Nizamuddin or any part of the country healthcare teams go and take action as part of the containment strategy, he said, adding the government was focusing on hotpsots from where large number of cases are being reported and working in tandem with states to implement rigorous contact-tracing, community surveillance and other containment strategies to break the chain of transmission. Responding to a question over a video on social media showing a group of migrant workers allegedly being sprayed with a chlorine solution by the Bareilly municipal corporation personnel, Agarwal said the district magistrate has clarified it was some "overzealous" employees who did something which was not required. "He has reprimanded all those officials. It was done by field officers out of ignorance or out of fear. There are no guidelines in terms of spraying disinfectants on people. This is an overzealous action done by field officers either out of fear or out of ignorance," he said.
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