COVID-19: Delhi govt says there is community transmission, Centre says no

Delhi health minister says source of more than half cases could not be traced

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 09 June 2020

The source of infection for more than half the daily reported cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Delhi couldn't be traced, state health minister Satyendra Jain said June 9, 2020. This qualified as community transmission, he added.

The Delhi government, however, cannot declare this, because it was a call the Union government had to take, said Jain.

Giving a statement after attending a meeting on COVID-19 preparedness, Jain said his government was waiting for a declaration from the Centre.

“If the transmission has reached a stage where the source can’t be identified, it is community spread, according to epidemiology,” Jain said. The issue would be raised at a meeting today with the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), he added.

Community transmission was already happening in containment zones, Jain said, citing a quote by All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, New Delhi Director Randeep Guleria.

This is the first time a state government said the source for a very large number of cases could not be traced. There are 29,943 cases of those who have COVID-19 in Delhi.

After attending the DDMA meeting, however, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said officials of the Centre present at the meeting, denied community spread. “They have refused to accept it,” he said.

“According to us, it is very much there. The cases are rising exponentially. The term ‘community transmission’ for qualification, however, can only be done by the Centre,” said Jain, after the DDMA meet.

The Centre has consistently denied community transmission, despite several experts — including the Indian Association of Epidemiologists and Indian Public Health Association — saying it was prevalent.

A paper published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research on more than 40,000 positive cases recorded between January and April in India was on, despite the Centre refusing to officially concede.

The exposure (travel / contact) history of a large number of confirmed cases was missing, according to the paper.

Lt guv vs Govt of Delhi

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor revoked the state government’s order of restricting medical care to the state’s residents.

“By the end of July, we will need more than 80,000 beds for Delhi patients alone. How are we going to have them if we allow elective surgeries now?” asked Jain.

The order passed by the Delhi government, however, was not restricted to disallowing elective surgeries.

It asked patients to present proof of residence in Delhi before approaching any hospital for surgeries other than transplantation, oncology and neurosurgery. Road accidents and acid attack patients were exempted.

Jain claimed the Lt Governor was asked by Sisodia if there was a plan to accommodate patients who do not belong to Delhi. Baijal said the situation will be tackled as it emerged, according to Jain.

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