Lav Agarwal, who has been leading the central government's news conferences on COVID-19 over the last six months as joint secretary of the Union Health Ministry, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the bureaucrat announced on Twitter on Friday.
In a tweet, Mr Agarwal said that he is under home isolation as per COVID-19 guidelines after testing positive for the virus. He also urged all his colleagues to self-monitor themselves.
Dear All,Just to inform that I have tested positive for Covid 19 and initiating home isolation as per guidelines. Requesting all my friends, colleagues for self monitoring. Contact tracing will be done by Health Team. Hoping to see everyone soon.— lavagarwal (@lavagarwal) August 14, 2020
At the height of the crisis, Mr Agarwal led daily 4 pm briefings on the coronavirus pandemic at the government's national media centre.
While infection rates have been slowing down in many other countries, India is still reporting more than 60,000 cases per day. Its total of more than 24 lakh cases trails only the United States and Brazil, and cases show no signs of slowing. Since the pandemic struck India, more than 48,000 people have died.
India still has the fastest rate of growth in infections among the five worst-hit countries. At 2.8 per cent, India's rate of increase in cases is nearly triple the 1 per cent in US.
While the government continues to highlight India's recovery rate, for a disease with a less than 4 per cent fatality worldwide, the recovery rate is not the best metric to measure the effect of the pandemic, experts have said.
Although India's major cities, such as New Delhi and Mumbai - the first to be hit by the virus - have registered a decline in cases, numbers in second-tier cities and rural areas continue to rise.
In one of his last media briefings, Mr Agarwal had said that India cannot count on herd immunity to stop the coronavirus pandemic given its demography and scale, adding that the country will have to rely on a vaccine to fully beat COVID-19.