Novel Coronavirus Update: A dilemma which most Indians dread for but still want to make sure about, the explanation that does India entered The Stage 3 Of COVID-19? It has been well known that Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 cases are continuing to increase daily in India. As of 27th May 2020, the total number of positive cases and deaths in India are 1,57,510 and 4,523 respectively.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the stage of transmission in India has been classified as a “cluster of cases.” What does this mean in layman language? Well, here is what you need to know to understand it and know where we stand in our fight against Novel Coronavirus COVID-19.
Novel Coronavirus Update: Has India Entered The Stage 3 Of COVID-19?
To understand this, you need to know about the different stages of the COVID-19 viral transmission. In general, there are four stages of transmission of a virus which includes:
Stage I: Imported cases only (from affected countries).
Stage II: Local transmission (direct contact with an infected person, like family and friends).
Stage III: Community spread (some of the infected people in an area might not know how or where they got infected).
Stage IV: Spread through several communities (epidemic), with no clear end point.
As per the Union Health Ministry, India is between stage 2 (local transmission) and stage 3 (community spread). While most of India is currently at stage 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic, localized community transmission is seen in some hotspot areas of the country (this is identified as “cluster of cases”). It is defined as countries/territories/areas experiencing cases, clustered in time, geographic location and/or by common exposure.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Welfare, on 5th May 2020, tweeted that “During an interview with @CNNnews18 I assured that no #communitytransmission has taken place in India so far and we have managed to prevent this stage 3 by doing massive contact tracing and surveillance.”
As testing each and every individual is not feasible given that the Indian has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, the WHO recommends sentinel surveillance. This can not only help to know the extent of viral transmission in a community, but also help to test small clusters for Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 testing.
What is Sentinel Surveillance?
Sentinel surveillance is carried out to check the prevalence of a disease in a community or a subset of the population. According to the WHO, it is conducted when high-quality data is needed about a particular disease but cannot be obtained through routine methods.
How it helps? It helps to identify and understand the spread and extent of transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a particular community.
When was it done? Since February 15, the ICMR has initiated sentinel surveillance to detect community transmission of COVID19. The surveillance sites have been scaled up from 16 sites on February 29, 2020 to 51 sites by March 15, 2020.
How is it done? For this, a cross-section of the population across districts is selected. This is picked up randomly in the areas with known and increased Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 positive cases. The samples of the people suffering from severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) /influenza like illnesses are tested from the sites.
Sentinel surveillance among severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) patients can help identify the spread and extent of transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The samples were reported from 52 districts in 20 States/Union Territories.
What did the results say? According to a research study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (dated 9th April 2020), a total of 5,911 people with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) were tested by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Of these, 104 (1.8%) tested positive for COVID-19 and among them around 40 (39.2%) did not have any travel history or contact with a coronavirus-positive case.
What does this indicate? Intensifying the sentinel surveillance in districts reported Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 cases can help to contain the pandemic.
What Is The Approach Of Government Of India?
As the number of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 cases in India is rising exponentially, here are a few measures taken by the Indian Government to contain the spread of the coronavirus transmission and to drastically avoid the Stage 3 Of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19.
- Increase capacity of the laboratories to screen increased numbers of samples using molecular testing for COVID-19 for the purpose of surveillance.
- In areas with low prevalence of COVID-19 (positive cases of less than 2%), sample pooling and testing is done using real-time RT-PCR to screen for the coronavirus. A pooled testing means samples from multiple individuals are taken and run together. If the test comes positive, then the individual testing is done.
- Populations in hotspot areas are tested using rapid antibody tests. If the test comes positively, then a confirmatory test using the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test after taking oral and nasal swabs is recommended.
- With a view to managing Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, every district of the country has been divided into (3) three zones: Hotspot districts, Non-Hotspot districts with reported cases, and Green zone districts. Hotspot districts are those from which more cases are being currently reported or where the rate of growth of cases is more.
- Containment plan for massive outbreaks has on top been set in place. According to this strategy, except for essential services, the rest of the movement and activities will be restricted in these containment zones. Cases will be actively monitored and surveyed by special teams in the containment zone. Special teams are set up to outline all contacts as well as conduct house to house surveys.
- Districts were equally required to classify hospitals as: COVID Care Centers for mild cases or extremely mild cases, COVID Health, Centers for clinical moderate cases requiring oxygen support and COVID Dedicated Hospitals for severe & critical cases with ventilator support.
Should I Need To Worry About The Stage 3 Of COVID-19?
Definitely YES! It goes without saying that the current situation is severely critical for the entire nation. As the cases are evolving rapidly, the transition of COVID-19 to stage 3 will chiefly depend on how we perform as a community to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
It is advised that community awareness on COVID is the key to prevent the spread of this disease. Therefore the best way is to:
- Focus on personal hygiene, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquettes.
- Practice social distancing and avoid mass gatherings.
- Self-quarantine for people in high-risk groups (those above 65 years of age, comorbid conditions, children below 5 years and pregnant women).
- Wear face covers and masks when in public (banks/groceries).
- Consult a doctor in case of feeling sick or experience any symptoms of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (fever/cough/breathlessness).
Please Do Not Panic but stay informed for more on Novel Coronavirus Update.