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News18 » India
1-min read

On Suspected Community Spread in TN, No Proof Yet to Suggest Patient Travelled Abroad: ICMR Scientist

The incident of the 20-year-old who travelled from Delhi to Chennai via train has been described by the Tamil Nadu health minister as India’s first “domestic” case.

Nikhil Ghanekar | News18.com@nghanekar

Updated:March 20, 2020, 11:45 PM IST
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On Suspected Community Spread in TN, No Proof Yet to Suggest Patient Travelled Abroad: ICMR Scientist
Representational Image. (Image: AP)

New Delhi: The government on Friday reiterated it has found no evidence that coronavirus is spreading freely through communities in India. What it cannot confirm, however, is the source of infection for a single case, described by the Tamil Nadu health minister as India’s first “domestic” case.

Earlier this week, a native of Uttar Pradesh travelled from Delhi to Chennai in a train. The 20-year-old works in a salon in Delhi and after he reached Chennai, authorities confirmed he had been infected by the novel coronavirus.

Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) chief of epidemiological and communicable diseases, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, said while he does not know the exact details, “When we probe, some details we have to trust what the patient says to us. These are all reported. Unlike in other diseases, we have tests to ascertain the source, there is no test. But I have also heard there is no history of contact. I have heard. We are checking further.”

The man has since been isolated at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai and is being monitored closely, officials said. State Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar had refused to entertain questions after his case was identified and described this as “a domestic case”.

This is significant since the government has so far maintained there has been no evidence of community transmission – when the virus spreads freely through communities and a link abroad can’t be established – in the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated there is need for bolstered testing globally, something that the ICMR has said is not the case.

Since February, the ICMR has tested 826 samples randomly to check for community transmission. These were picked up from February onwards from government medical colleges and have been tested at virus and research diagnostic laboratories. All samples have returned negative.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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