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Coronavirus cases in India touch 694, death toll 16

 NEW DELHI, March 26 - There has been no solid evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in India as yet and the infection appears to be relatively stabilising considering the rate at which it is increasing, the health ministry said on Thursday.

At the same, it said the latest figure does not establish a clear trend and in no way the government is relaxed about anything at this point.

The number of coronavirus cases climbed to 694 in India on Thursday and the death rose to 16, with fatality reported from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, according to the Health Ministry.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the ministry of health, said at a press conference that 43 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and four deaths were reported since Wednesday.

“While the numbers of COVID-19 cases are increasing, there appears to be relatively a stable trend or even little bit reduction in the rate at which they are increasing,” he said.

“This however does not establish a clear trend and in no way are we relaxed about anything at this point,” he added.

Agarwal said the ministry is hopeful of containing the spread of the coronavirus by social distancing policy, conducting a proper contact tracing of positive cases and by ensuring that all people at home quarantine are monitored.

While adding a note of caution, Agarwal said the community transmission phase of the disease will begin if the community and the government do not work collectively and follow the set guidelines of social distancing, home quarantine and treatment.

He urged people to support the lockdown announced by the Prime Minister saying social distancing can be an effective intervention to break the chain of transmission and all the efforts will go into waste even if one person does not follow the policy for containment of the disease.

Commenting over the cases reported in Hyderabad and Bhilwada, Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR said, “Going by one or two cases we cannot say there has been community transmission. Also why should we hide if there has been a community transmission.”

“There is still no solid evidence to say there has been community transmission of coronavirus in India,” he asserted. – PTI

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