Concern in TN over community transmission of Covid-19 cases

Wednesday 25th March 2020 05:53 EDT

Chennai: Tamil Nadu has raised concern over community transmission of Covid-19 cases as a 20-year-old man from Delhi has tested positive for coronavirus in Chennai. The case of this man with travel history to Delhi and no overseas travel has raised concerns of community transmission of the disease. He is now being treated in Chennai.

Authorities, however, are not calling the case one of community transmission yet. A senior officer from the Department of Public Health and Medicine said, "In Delhi, this man had come in contact with a person with foreign travel history. Only when many such people report we can call it community transmission." The health secretary Beela Rajesh added, "We are tracing the contact presently."

Tamil Nadu's first coronavirus case, a 45-year-old man who had returned from Oman has been discharged after he tested negative twice following treatment. The health minister tweeted, "He has completely recovered from the illness and back home. He will be home quarantined for two weeks."

The DMK demanded that those without travel history too be tested. DMK leader MK Stalin wanted private hospitals and labs to be roped in to deal with what he called "any Italy-like epidemic". DMK MLA Dr Poongothai Aladi Aruna said, "The government has to understand disease has moved from local category to community category. The need of the hour is to provide access to diagnostic tests to all. I request the Tamil Nadu government to set up diagnostic centres in every district on a war-footing. Under-testing will lead to rapid community spread which in turn will become an epidemic and that will be detrimental to lives of health care professionals and public."

Presently 189,000 people, largely international passengers have been screened in Tamil Nadu. Of the 222 samples sent, only two have tested positive, 166 have tested negative, 54 samples are under process. Nearly 3,000 people are on home quarantine. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had insisted that India is currently at Stage 2 of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit over 100 countries, meaning that at present, there is no community transmission of the virus.

In Stage 2, there is local transmission from infected persons like relatives or acquaintances of those who travelled abroad and less people are affected. The source of the virus is known and it is easier to trace the chain, as opposed to community transmission.

In Stage 3, when community transmission takes place, large areas get affected. Community transmission is when a patient not exposed to any infected person or one who has not travelled to any of the affected countries tests positive. At this stage, people detected positive are unable to identify where they got the virus from. At Stage 4, considered the worst stage, the disease takes the shape of an epidemic with no clear end point like it did in China.

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