Coronavirus: 38,900+ cases in 24 hours; community spread feared
India has reported 38,902 fresh coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day spike thus far. The national tally now stands at 10,77,618 cases. The country also witnessed 543 fatalities during this period, taking the death toll to 26,816. More worryingly, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has said that community transmission of the disease has possibly begun. Here are more details.
India third worst-affected in the outbreak
India continues to maintain its unwanted position as the third worst-affected nation in the COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in China last year. It is only behind the US (38,33,271 cases; 1,42,877 deaths) and Brazil (20,75,246 cases; 78,817 deaths).
India witnessing an alarming trend of increase in cases
But the most worrying aspect is the relative pace with which India's COVID-19 cases are rising. The country, which now has over a million cases, had reached the first 2.5 lakh cases in 98 days, while the next 2.5 lakh cases were reported in less than three weeks (19 days). India jumped from 7.5 lakh to 10 lakh cases in just eight days.
Community spread has started, said IMA Board chairman
Painting a grim picture about India's fight against the deadly virus, Dr. VK Monga, Chairman of IMA Hospital Board of India, termed the rise in cases as "exponential," adding that the country is in a "really bad situation." Citing that the disease has started spreading to rural areas, Dr. Monga warned that India has entered the dreaded community transmission stage.
What exactly is community spread?
In simple terms, community transmission occurs when a person tests positive for a disease, but the source of the illness remains unknown. For instance, if a person tests positive for COVID-19, but has no travel history to coronavirus-hit regions, nor have they come into contact with others infected with the disease, it is said to be a case of community spread.
'Bad sign': Cases penetrating into towns and villages
Dr. Monga further noted that cases are now penetrating from urban areas to towns and villages where it will be even more difficult to contain the spread. "In Delhi, we were able to contain it, but what about interior parts of the country?" he asked.
Working to ramp up testing facilities: ICMR
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that it is regularly working to ramp up testing facilities in the country. Presently, 885 government laboratories and 368 private laboratory chains are allowed to conduct COVID-19 tests across India. A total of 1,34,33,742 samples were tested for the virus until July 17. Of these, 3,61,024 samples were tested on Friday, ICMR said.
Separately, AIIMS gives nod for trials of COVAXIN
In some positive vaccine-related news, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Ethics Committee on Saturday granted permission for a human clinical trial of the indigenously-developed COVID-19 vaccine candidate COVAXIN. AIIMS, Delhi is among the 12 sites selected by ICMR for conducting Phase I and II human trials of COVAXIN. If you are willing to volunteer for the trial, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 7428847499.