Delhi has not reached community transmission of the novel coronavirus, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Sunday, a day after the city reported 2,948 fresh infections over 24 hours to record more than 80,000 cases overall – nearly as many as China, where the pandemic began in December 2019.
Responding to questions about possible community-level spread of the virus in the national capital, the Home Minister told news agency ANI “there is no need to fear” and said he had consulted three senior doctors on this subject.
“I have talked to Dr Paul (from government think tank Niti Aayog), Dr Bhargava (chief of the Indian Council for Medical Research, the government’s nodal agency in this crisis) and Dr Guleria (Director, AIIMS). This situation has not come to Delhi,” Amit Shah said.
“Such a situation appeared because of total COVID-19 tests conducted, earlier 30 per cent turned out to be positive and that was happening because tests were done at the last moment. Now that we have started doing 20,000 tests on average, the condition is not there. There is no need to fear,” he said.
Community transmission, or Stage 3 of a pandemic, is marked by cases that cannot be traced to any source of infection.
The national capital is the second worst-affected region with 80,188 confirmed cases; this includes 2,558 deaths and 28,329 active cases. Last week the city detected more than 3,000 new cases over three consecutive 24-hour periods and it has seen over 2,000 new cases every day since June 17.
Amit Shah’s statement comes weeks after Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there was “transmission in the community” but insisted only the centre could confirm this.
Mr Jain, who has recovered after being hospitalised for the COVID-19 virus did, however, say “in 50 per cent of cases in Delhi source of infection is unknown“.
The government responded the day after Mr Jain’s statement and reiterated that neither the national capital nor the country had reached community transmission. Dr Balram Bhargava, the director of the ICMR said: “We are definitely not in community transmission. It is only a term”.
The spike in cases has led to the Delhi government scrambling to find hospital beds and medical resources, including commandeering and converting hotels and banquet halls into temporary coronavirus care facilities.
The spike also led to a reprimand from the Supreme Court, which called the Delhi government’s handling of the crisis “horrific, horrendous and pathetic“.
The rebuke led to meetings between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Mr Shah which, in turn, led to several measures being taken, including remapping of containment zones and universal screening in Delhi by July 6.
Delhi has also seen more testing since the top court’s observations, a fact Mr Kejriwal mentioned in a video briefing on Saturday. He said “hum gali gali mein test karte hain (we’re testing in every street)”.
Meanwhile, Mr Shah also hit out at Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia over claims there will be 5.5 lakh COVID-19 cases in Delhi by July 31. He said the comment had “created fear among the public” and said Delhi would not face such a situation.
Earlier this month Mr Sisodia said Delhi would have 5.5 lakh coronavirus cases by July 31, based on doubling rates as of June 9.
With input from ANI