Community spread worries swirl in MP’s Covid hotspot Indore
Indore recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 25, five days after the first four cases in the state were reported from Jabalpur.
Around 50% of the Covid-19 patients in Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, have no recent travel history or exposure to another person infected by the coronavirus, indicating that they caught the disease possibly through community transmission, health officials said.
Indore recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 25, five days after the first four cases in the state were reported from Jabalpur. The number of cases grew steadily -- five more on March 26, four each on March 27 and 28 and three on March 29. The spurt started on March 30, when 19 new cases were identified. As of Thursday night, Indore accounted for 82 of Madhya Pradesh’s 107 Covid-19 patients.
Only 40 of the 82 people identified as Covid-19-positive had a travel history or exposure to a person known to be suffering from the disease, indicating the likelihood of community transmission, said a health department official of Indore district, who is maintaining records of all Covid-19 positive cases.
Community transmission, known as stage 3 in a pandemic of the Covid-19 kind, is suspected when the source of infection cannot be identified and is seen as a sign of the virus spreading in local communities.
Indian medical authorities have so far not acknowledged that the country has reached that stage.
A health department official, requesting anonymity, said that when the initial cases were reported in Indore, little screening of people had taken place in the densely populated neighbourhoods where they surfaced. The complete lockdown starting on March 25 had also not been strictly enforced, the official said.
“This may have caused some community spread,” the official added.
The Madhya Pradesh government on March 30 replaced collector Lokesh Kumar Jatav and deputy inspector general of police Ruchivardhan Mishra with Manish Singh and Harinarayan Chari Mishra,respectively. Jatav declined speak on alleged lapses that took place in containing the spread of infections at the onset of the virus in Indore. The new collector should brief the media about the situation in Indore, Jatav said. Singh said they were alert about the situation and strict lockdown has been enforced in all these localities.
What shocked health officials was that about 70 patients, or 80% of the Covid-19 patients identified as of Thursday night, had no recent history of travel. Chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Indore, Dr Praveen Jadia said, “Most of the cases don’t have a travel history. We suspect that the first four cases may have got the disease from one source and may have unknowingly spread it to others.”
The first cases were reported from Ranipura, Chandan Nagar and Khajrana and they spread to new neighbourhoods like Daulatganj and Azad Nagar, indicating that the enforcement of the lockdown had been lax.
Anwar Qadri, a local corporator , agreed with Jadia. “We are also baffled as to how the virus spread so fast in these localities,” he said, that unlike in other places, Indore’s Muslims had an insignificant association with the Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic group whose Delhi headquarters hosted an international congregation last month and emerged as a hotspot of the coronavirus disease.
Even three days after the spurt happened, the district administration is yet to complete contact tracking of all the Covid-10 patients. Commissioner, Indore division, Akash Tripathi said: “We are trying to know as to how many persons came in contact with Covid-19 positive cases to identify and screen such people. But we are yet to know as to whom it all started from.”