On Saturday, the head of ICMR’s epidemiology division told the media in New Delhi that patients suffering from a severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) without any history of international travel or contact with anybody infected by the novel coronavirus have tested positive for the virus. He did not divulge the number of such patients who had tested positive but only said that they were “sporadic”.
This means that India is officially in stage 3 of the coronavirus pandemic. As news poured in about stage 3 transmission, officials across India were found scrambling to prepare health infrastructure.
Senior officials directly in charge of the fight against COVID-19 in nine states, including Kerala, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, undertook an extensive assessment of the situation, according to media reports.
The influx of thousands of migrant workers and their families to and from these above states since March 26 has added to the panic.
While state governments are only practising standard preparedness measures, the message originating from ICMR and being officially communicated with urgency to district collectors has added to the fear that government assessment of the situation is different than what it has been projecting.