Community transmission denial can hit Covid-19 control steps: Experts

Public health experts and epidemiologists have said community transmission of Covid-19 in certain pockets in Mumbai and Pune, and in some places across the country, cannot be denied.

The average cases per million is 84 nationally, but parts of Maharashtra and Delhi have 4 to 7 times the national average which indicates such transmission, they said.

The Centre must define at what level an area can be called as community transmission hit, a leading epidemiologist working with the central health ministry, said.

“A synonym for community transmission is also fine, but it must be declared because actions in these areas should be prioritised to prevent deaths and spread of Covid-19 to other areas,” he added Technical advisor to the state government and independent epidemiologist Subhash Salunkhe, with 40 years in the public health sector, said the central government should accept that community transmission has taken place in certain pockets and plan to address it.

Salunkhe was at the helm during the swine flu spread in 2009. “Community transmission is not across the country. It is in certain pockets, especially in Mumbai and Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Indore,” he said. “Denial would only increase the trouble in addressing the problem and delay the tracing and treatment. We are at the end of May and the incubation period of the disease,” he said.

The push must be on early diagnosis of high-risk cases, contact tracing, testing, isolation and treatment, he added.

The health expert was concerned about large-scale migration from red zone areas to rural areas where the health infrastructure will take up a huge burden in the coming months “Pune and Mumbai have increased hospital beds with oxygen facility, but rural areas and UP and Bihar will have to brace for cases,” he said.

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