As the cases of the deadly coronavirus are on the rise in India, concerns are zooming in on the country's transmission stage. Which stage is India in? Have we moved past the second stage? Has community transmission begun in India? According to the Ministry of Health, India is between Stage 2 and Stage 3 of coronavirus pandemic with a large number of cases being found in particular areas.
INDIA BETWEEN STAGE 2 AND STAGE 3 OF CORONAVIRUS: WHAT IT MEANS
Even though the country has not yet moved to Stage 3 of the pandemic, concerns remain as the situation was completely in Stage 2 till now. There is a change, and hence the minor shift. Earlier, AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria, who is also a member of a Task Force on COVID-19, on Monday reportedly said that "localized community transmission" has been seen in some pockets and that India is between Stage 2 (local transmission) and Stage 3 (community transmission). However, he had said that most of India is currently at Stage 2 of the pandemic. Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, said: "What the AIIMS Director has said is not in variance with what we have been explaining to you." Explaining further, Agarwal said that they go for a cluster containment strategy when limited cases are reported from a particular area while the government's action and intervention gets intensified when large number of cases are reported.
"We tell you every time that if there will be a community transmission we will be the first one to tell you so that everyone gets alert. If we go by the wordings (of AIIMS Director), he said localised community transmission, which implies larger number of cases are being found in a particular area," the official said.
"We are in between Stage 2 and 3 and that implies that our efforts and actions should be focused on ensuring we do not shift to stage 3," the joint secretary said, adding there are clear defined strategies for containment in areas reporting larger number of cases and the government was working according to that.
CORONAVIRUS: THE DIFFERENT STAGES
STAGE 1: This is the first appearance of the disease through people with travel history, with everyone contained, their sources traced, and no local spread from those affected with the virus. At this stage, the number of those infected would be quite low.
STAGE 2: This stage implies local transmission, which means that those infected patients who have a travel history, spread the virus to close friends and family. At this stage, every person who came in contact with the infected persons can be traced and isolated.
STAGE 3: This is the stage of community transmission. Getting to this stage can be worrisome because in such circumstances the source of the virus cannot be traced. At this stage, large geographical lockdowns become important as random members of the community start developing the disease. At this stage, a patient is infected though he had no known contact with another confirmed case of COVID-19 or travelled from a country affected by the pandemic.
STAGE 4: This is the ultimate stage when the disease becomes an epidemic in a country. For instance in China, infections were reported on a large scale with death toll surmounting with no end in sight.