New Delhi , Mar 28: The government on Saturday said India had registered 149 new coronavirus cases including two deaths since Friday with the total number of positive cases reaching 873, but ruled out the existence of any concrete evidence of the country having progressed to stage-3 of virus transmissions, also defined as the community-transmission phase.
The information was given during the central health ministry’s routine briefing on the pandemic on Saturday.
“We will not over-interpret the situation unless there is significant evidence of people getting infected,” said Dr R Ganga Ketkar, a senior official with India’s medical research body, ICMR.
In other key information, the government officials added that the country presently had a sufficient number of testing facilities and kits and it was prepared to tackle any dramatic rise in the number of infections.
“We are prepared to test an additional 5 lakh people with newly acquired probes, apart from the existing capacity to test 1 lakh people with probes already available in labs. No one should worry about the government’s capacity to test through both private and public test facilities,” Dr Ganga Ketkar said.
Replying to questions if the national lockdown, already in its fourth day, was giving the desired results, the officials said it was not possible to analyse the results so soon after the implementation of a preventive measure.
“A step taken today will not give results tomorrow,” health ministry’s joint secretary Lav Agarwal said.
He added the government was confident that the measures will yield positive results as the interventions were taken timeously, having learned from the experience of other countries.
“We went to lockdown when we were getting limited cases of local transmission compared to other countries that went into lockdown much later. With public health expert guiding us, we are confident that we will get good results,” said Agarwal, adding that the country has been “preemptive and graded” in its response
Officials said rigorous contact-tracing was being done and all patients with severe acute respiratory illness were being tested for the virus but ruled out any need to conduct random sampling at this stage.
“Random sampling is not required,” Dr Ketkar said. He also pointed out that only 30% of the exiting 12,000 testing facilities have been used so far.
Officials said that elderly people and those suffering from comorbid conditions were at a greater risk as demonstrated through available data.
“Comorbid conditions are cardiac condition, asthma, hypertension, diabetes and some kidney-related cases... and elderly people were at a higher risk, we have said that before,” Dr Ketkar said.
On the issue of vaccine trials, it was made clear that no vaccine had reached the stage of human trials yet, and the most advanced trials were in the stage of animal trials.