A new Standard Operating Procedure issued by health ministry for transporting a COVID-19 case on Sunday refers to India’s 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),” reads the Union health ministry standard operating procedure document for transporting a COVID19 suspect or confirmed case.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has so far maintained that India is facing local transmission. While briefing the media on Saturday, the ICMR once again refuted the possibility for the moment, Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR, said that there was little evidence to suggest social transmission has begun in India.

“There was no reason to panic at the moment,” Gangakhedkar said, while announcing that the ICMR has now switched from random sample testing to testing of all patients with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).

“We have just started testing SARI cases. There are some sporadic instances where cases have not revealed any history of exposure. But the numbers are not so exponential that we conclude that the virus is spreading rapidly,” he said.

The ICMR has been relentless and told the media to not interpret things. “It is all dependent on a person’s memory and also whether they want to reveal their history or not. Some people didn’t even reveal that they tested positive while others hid their travel history. Till we see a significant number of cases to indicate community transmission, let us not overinterpret things,” Gangakhedkar added.

Earlier on March 13, ICMR has said that “community transmission” of the novel coronavirus was “inevitable”. Having isolated the virus which is a “Wuhan like strain”, experts said that virus will follow the same pattern as it did in China.

“The virus will behave the same way it has behaved in China. It will follow the same pattern,” Balram Bhargava, D-G, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said.

Experts at ICMR said that there are four states of the disease. Stage one is getting imported cases, stage 2 is local transmission, stage three is community transmission and stage 4 is, when it turns into an epidemic.

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