Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, the government on Sunday admitted for the first time that there is community transmission in many parts of the country.
The statement was made by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan during his sixth episode of ‘Sunday Samvaad’ while responding to a question on community transmission in West Bengal. The state government has recently said community transmission is being reported from several parts of Bengal.
“In different pockets across various states, including West Bengal, community transmission is expected to occur, especially in dense areas. However, this is not happening across the country. It is limited to certain districts in limited states,” Vardhan said.
On various earlier occasions, the government has shied away from using the term ‘community transmission’. This has been the case with the Union Health Ministry, which has often said that there are ‘small outbreaks’. However, state governments of Kerala, and even Delhi, led by the Aam Aadmi Party, have spoken about it. Now, the West Bengal government has talked about the infection moving on to the third stage of the pandemic which is community transmission. The fourth stage is an epidemic. The first two stages — of transmission via imported cases and localised transmission has been seen in the country.
Community transmission is the stage when the infection becomes widespread to the extent that it is difficult to assess who is the index patient. The source and chain of infection can no longer be established.
In fact, a committee appointed by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, has concluded in its mathematical calculation that at least 30 per cent of the country has developed antibodies against the virus.
The committee also said that the total projected symptomatic infections would be 1,06,000 by February 2021.