- The Union Health Ministry official rejected claim on community spread
- "If contact tracing isn't done properly, cases will rise," he said
- The official held up Dharavi as example of effective contact tracing
A day after the Delhi government said half the coronavirus cases in the capital cannot be traced to any source, a top health ministry official asserted there is no community transmission and raised doubts about contact tracing in Delhi.
Even this morning, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said: "There is transmission in the community, but if it is community transmission or not that can be declared by Centre only, it is a technical term."
The Union Health Ministry official, rejecting the claim, said there are several areas in Delhi where "an active search needs to be done" in containment zones, or areas sealed after a large number of COVID-19 cases.
"If contact tracing isn't done properly, the authorities will face difficulty in tracing the source of infection and the cases will continue to rise in the containment zone," the official told NDTV.
He also stressed that the door-to-door search mechanism for tracing of cases in containment zones needs to be updated.
The senior official held up the Dharavi slums in Mumbai as an example of effective contact tracing. "Active case search example needs to be replicated from Dharavi, where earlier 60-80 cases and 10-12 deaths were taking place daily. In the last five days, the case rise has been between 10 and 17 and no death has taken place," he said.
The situation was better in a "few of the 11 districts in Delhi", including the New Delhi and South Delhi areas, but an improvement is needed in others as well, said the health ministry official.
For example, he pointed out, there are five districts where the rate of cases turning positive is more than 20 per cent.
"The Union Health Ministry is in contact with the authorities in Delhi and is ready to provide technical support," he said.
On Monday, Satyendar Jain said a large number of cases in Delhi could not be traced to any source, but only the centre could declare whether the city was in the community transmission stage of the pandemic.
"We say community spread when people don't know how they got the infection. There are many cases. In 50 per cent of the cases in Delhi, the source of infection is not known," Mr Jain told reporters.
"AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria had said there is community transmission in Delhi but the centre has not accepted it yet. We cannot declare it and the centre has to declare it. Community spread is a technical term and it depends on the centre whether they accept it or not. There are four stages in epidemiology in which the third stage is the community spread," Mr Jain added.
There are close to 30,000 COVID-19 cases in Delhi and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said going by the doubling rate, there would be over 50,000 cases in 10 days and 5.5 lakh cases by July 31.