Senior scientists and health officials have said that India currently is showing no evidence of any community transmission and that enough tests were being done to pick up any early indication of third stage transmission.

“We are testing enough and so far there is no evidence for the need to go in for mass testing. You have to remember that India started proactive action from January 17 onwards, whereas our first cases came in the end of January. The country had put in early measures to ensure that transmission stays localised and any indications otherwise are picked up,”’ said Dr. Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases-I (ECD-I), Division, Indian Council of Medical Research, on Monday.

He further added that ICMR was doing random testing to understand and gain any indication of community transmission.

‘Very few samples’

“We will be getting the results of our random sampling by Wednesday, which will give us a flavour of where we are headed. As of now, the transmission is localised and our labs are receiving very few samples, and can test far more than the the number of samples that we are getting,” he said.

This is when several experts have noted that India isn’t testing enough, which could be the reason for its relatively low number of COVID-19 cases, while also exposing the country to an outbreak.

Currently, 63 laboratories (62 Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratories and 1 National Centre for Disease Control) are functioning to test COVID-19, and nine laboratories are expected to start functioning shortly.

The ICMR has meanwhile noted that it has ordered a million probes from Germany to ensure that all laboratories in the country are ready for sample testing, if needed. “Earlier, we had ordered 2 lakh probes but we have now asked for more as we have increased the number of labs across the country,’’ Dr. Gangakhedkar explained.

Random sample testing

The ICMR has also noted that it has intensified random sample testing of people who display flu-like symptoms but don’t have a travel history to any of the coronavirus-hit countries.

“We have picked up 20 samples from over 50 labs for testing any community transmission. We had previously taken a smaller group of samples from our labs to check for community transmission between February 15 and 29. But since this is an evolving virus, we need to keep a check,” he added.

Replying to questions on whether weather conditions have an impact on the virus and if repeated infection was possible, he said that, so far, there was no clear evidence that a large section of people can get re-infected. “Also, since the virus hasn’t seen many seasons, we cannot say conclusively that the virus will slow down with higher temperature,” Dr. Gangakhedkar said.

News Source: The Hindu


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