Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

India resists Community Transmission tag despite soaring cases


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cluster of cases and community transmission classification of WHO

Mains level : Paper 2- Why community transmission tag matters

How other countries are classifying themselves

  • Inspite of adding the highest number of cases in the world every day, India continues to label itself as a country with no community transmission (CT) according to the latest weekly report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 11.
  • India opts for the lower, less serious classification called ‘cluster of cases’.
  • Countries such as the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, France have all labelled themselves as being in ‘community transmission.
  • Among the 10 countries with the most number of confirmed cases, only Italy and Russia do not label themselves as being in community transmission.
  • Both countries have been on a declining trajectory for at least a month and together contribute less than 20,000 cases a day — about 5% of India’s daily numbers.
  • India, since the beginning of the pandemic has never marked itself as being in community transition.

Understanding the classification

  • Broadly, CT is when new cases in the last 14 days can’t be traced to those who have an international travel history, when cases can’t be linked to specific cluster.
  • Instead, the classification, ‘cluster of cases’ says “Cases detected in the past 14 days are predominantly limited to well-defined clusters that are not directly linked to imported cases”.
  • The WHO guidelines further suggest four subcategories within the broader definition of CT.
  • CT-1 implying “Low incidence of locally acquired, widely dispersed cases…and low risk of infection for the general population.
  • The highest, a CT-4 suggests very high incidence of locally acquired, widely dispersed cases in the past 14 days.
  • Very high risk of infection for the general population.

Why right classification matters

  • If cases were still a cluster, it would mean that the government ought to be prioritising testing, contact tracing and isolating to prevent further infection spread.
  • CT, on the other hand meant prioritising treatment and observing advisories to stay protected.
  • CT — far from being stigmatic or an indicator of failure — has a bearing on how authorities addressed a pandemic.

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