Amid a spurt in coronavirus cases, the government on Thursday said India has not yet reached the community transmission stage of COVID-19 and asserted that there have been localised outbreaks in some geographical areas.
The Centre's assertion came on a day India registered a record single-day surge of 24,879 COVID-19 cases, taking the caseload to 7,67,296.
The death toll climbed to 21,129 with 487 new fatalities, the updated data at 8 am showed.
Asked if India has entered the community transmission phase, Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty in the Union Health ministry said, "Even today, the health minister (Harsh Vardhan) clearly said after the GoM that India has not reached the stage of community transmission. In some geographical areas, there have been localised outbreaks.
"We should not forget that in our country, 49 districts alone account for 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases. In a country of more than 733 districts, if 49 districts account for 80 per cent cases, then it is not justified to talk about community transmission," he said at a press briefing.
Wherever there are active cases, if the prescribed protocol is followed, in three days close contacts of active cases can be traced and tracked, he said.
"So in such a situation in which you can trace and track close contacts of active cases, talking about community transmission is not justified," Bhushan asserted.
He said India's COVID-19 cases and deaths per million population are amongst the lowest in the world.
On an average, India is testing more than 2.6 lakh samples per day for COVID-19, an ICMR official said at the briefing, asserting that testing has been ramped up in the country in a big way.
COVID-19 recovered cases are 1.75 times that of active cases, Bhushan said.
People over 60 years account for 53 per cent of India's COVID-19 deaths, he said.
Asked about a WHO spokesperson saying that there are indications that the virus may be airborne, Bhushan said, "We are keeping abreast with the information coming out of WHO headquarters on this particular aspect, but you would all appreciate and realise that even during the initial stages of the outbreak, we and the PM had repeatedly emphasised 'do-gaz doori' (Two-metre distance).
"So this concept protects you from small droplets that may remain suspended in air for longer period of time."
It is an evolving and dynamic situation, he added.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine