Community transmission of COVID-19 is the greatest threat facing humanity right now. As it is, the pandemic is becoming more dangerous and if community transmission is confirmed, then things may get out of hand.
So what is community transmission? Well, It is the third stage of a pandemic. It means the infected person did not catch the virus from someone he/she knows who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. So, he/she got COVID-19 in a certain area that they live in. They did not get infected due to travelling to some other location or from a different country.
So has community spread started in India? Read on to know more.
Why is community transmission so dangerous?
In the first phase, when you know that the illness came from another country, certain measures like halting international travel or movement across the border can stop further spread. Contact tracing will reveal whom the infected people mingled with and everyone would be quarantined.
But in the next stage of local transmission, it becomes impossible to know who or where a person contracted the infection. It could be a neighbour, a fellow traveller, anyone in the country, state or city. And the same infected person could spread the infection to countless people who in turn would infect anyone they come in contact with. No amount of restrictions or hygiene would be able to restrict the spread.
The curve would shoot up and healthcare services would be overwhelmed. In the absence of proper medical attention, people with comorbidities may succumb and the fatality rate of COVID-19 would go up.
What are the experts saying?
Experts across the world believe that India has entered the community transmission stage. The simple logic is this- India is the third most affected country in the world behind the US and Brazil. The case count has shot past 19 lakh. It is not possible that all of them contracted the disease outside the country or from an infected acquaintance.
As an internationally famous virologist pointed out, testing rates are still very low in India. So even if on the surface, the transmission rate seems low, only a very tiny percentage of India’s population has been tested. The rest of the people do not figure in the calculations because there is no evidence whether they have COVID-19 or not. According to neutral experts, nobody can pinpoint the exact number of COVID-19 cases in India. Some doctors believe that every case of cold or flu could potentially be COVID-19.
What does the government have to say?
Both the Union government and the ICMR insist that we haven’t reached the 3rd stage despite the shocking rise in the number of cases every day. Government officials reiterate that the low rate of transmission signals absence of community transmission.
In the absence of clarity on this issue, the best we can do is continue to be diligent with hygiene and social distancing. Following measures like stepping out only when necessary, wearing masks and sanitizing our hands frequently will keep us safe from COVID-19 at present.