Editorial

A revealing fact

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 11/1/2020 12:46:38 PM IST

 When the Department of Health and Family Welfare(DoHFW), revealed on Saturday, as part of its weekly report, that many who tested positive for COVID-19 did not disclose their source of contact(s) only served to lent credence to long-held speculations, that many who have been infected with COVID-19 cases were through community transmission. Even if the DoHFW refused to accept the unacceptable about community transmission, it is a reality not only in Nagaland but elsewhere. Even in July, many organisations in Nagaland expressed deep suspicions that community transmission had taken place. They pointed to cases reported outside quarantine facilities when total lockdown was enforced throughout the state. However, the DoHFW chose to toe the line of the ministry of health & family welfare(MoHFW) that there was no community transmission (in India) but a stage between local transmission and community transmission. Even in India, eminent epidemiologists and virologists have admitted that community transmission has already taken place since April. On March 28, the Health Ministry acknowledged that there was "limited community transmission" of the novel coronavirus in India. On April 9, the ICMR and Health Ministry researchers - some of them are national task force members for COVID-19 in a journal paper, provided evidence suggesting the prevalence of community transmission in 36 districts across 15 States. The health ministry’s own admission that there was “limited community transmission”, a newly created phase that was supposed to be between Stages 2 and 3. However, the ministry hastily retracted this statement. Even as late as on June and just two days after ICMR director-general Balram Bhargava had rejected that community transmission has already taken place; leading experts like former director AIIMS, Dr MC Mishra, virologist Shahid Jameel, lung surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar and epidemiologist Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil came out in the open by reiterating that the virus had already spread among population groups and localities that have little to do with travel or contact with travellers. Virologist Shahid Jameel based his argument of a community transmission in India on the ICMR's study itself. He said, "even ICMR's own study of SARI (severe acute respiratory illness) showed that about 40 per cent of those who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 did not have any history of overseas travel or contact to a known case. If this is not community transmission, what is?”. The reluctance has surprised many health experts since the total cases reported even on May 10 had already crossed 63,500, and the nature of spread in most cases was through droplet transmission and contact with contaminated surfaces. In contrast, in the U.S. on February 26, when the total number of cases was just 60, it confirmed community spread following the detection in California of the first case with no travel history or contact with a known positive case. The state DoHFW has been adopting the ICMR and ministry of health and family welfare guidelines regarding handling of COVID-19 pandemic and information on public domain. On the spike since September, the DoHFW termed it as “community spread” and not “community transmission”. The term is nowhere found in the WHO lexicon. The admission by DoHFW on Saturday, that many infected with the virus did not disclose contacts, cannot take away the huge possibility that perhaps they can’t identify the source of contact. Death rate will increase and the graph will gradually level and this is what epidemiologists have been predicting all along.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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