COVID-19: Health Experts Say India In Community Transmission Stage

Joint Covid Task Force Of The Opinion That Govt Should Have Consulted Epidemiologists Before Policy Formation

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New Delhi: India has entered the community transmission stage in the Covid-19 pandemic, say public health experts from the country’s three associations.

In a joint statement, they have claimed that allowing migrant workers to travel will take the virus to the interiors of India, timesnownews.com has reported.

“Had the Government of India consulted epidemiologists who had a better grasp of disease transmission dynamics compared to modellers, it would have perhaps been better served. From the limited information available in the public domain, it seems that the government was primarily advised by clinicians and academic epidemiologists with limited field training and skills,” reads the statement from the ‘Joint Covid Task Force’, undersigned by 15 doctors.

The Joint Covid Task Force, formed in April, includes members from Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE).

“The engagement with expert technocrats in the areas of epidemiology, public health, preventive medicine and social scientists was limited. India is paying a heavy price both in terms of humanitarian crisis and disease spread,” they have stated.

They have argued that the migrant workers should have been allowed to travel to their hometowns when chances of infection were low. “The returning migrants are now taking infection to each and every corner of the country; mostly to rural and peri-urban areas, in districts with relatively weak public health systems (including clinical care),” says the statement.

The experts have suggested following recommendations to help contain the virus at this stage:

1) Lifting of the lockdown and replacing it with cluster restrictions

2) Resumption of health services, sentinel and surveillance

3) Strengthening of the public health system with an allocation of at least 5% of the GDP.

The number of coronavirus cases in India has crossed 1.83 lakh, of which 5,164 people have died as of May 31.

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