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India in stage 2 of coronavirus outbreak, private labs being engaged for testing: ICMR

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New Delhi, Mar 17: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday that India is in stage two of coronavirus outbreak.

"We already know that we are in stage 2. We are not in stage 3, clearly as of now. There are four stages. Third stage is community transmission which we hope we shouldn't have. It would depend on how strongly we close our international borders, in terms of which government has taken very proactive steps. But can't say that community transmission won't happen," Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargavasaid while addressing a press conference in New Delhi.

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Further elaborating on the matter, he said: "There are 4 stages. The third stage is community transmission which we hope we shouldn't have. It would depend on how strongly we close our international borders, in terms of which the government has taken very proactive steps." "But can't say that community transmission won't happen," he added.

Bhargava said the body is currently engaged in laboratory expansion and at present, there are 72 functional laboratories in ICMR system.

"We have also engaged non-ICMR, Ministry of Health, government laboratories including CSIR, DRDO, DBT, govt medical colleges," Bhargava said, adding that 49 of those labs will start testing by the end of this week.

"We are trying to engage private labs. We are in the process of getting them on board as soon as possible. They are not too many in number," the DG added.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the country rose to 137 on Tuesday, while one more person died taking the death toll to three, according to Health Ministry.

The cases include 24 foreign nationals and the three persons who died in Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Delhi has so far reported eight positive cases while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 15 cases, including one foreigner. Maharashtra has 39 cases, including 3 foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 26 cases which includes two foreign nationals. Karnataka has 11 coronavirus patients.

Ladakh has reported six cases while Jammu and Kashmir three. Telangana has reported five cases which includes two foreigners. Rajasthan has also reported four cases including that of two foreigners.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have reported one case each. Odisha reported its first case on Monday. In Haryana, there are 15 cases, which include fourteen foreigners, while Uttarakhand has reported one case.

According to the ministry's data, 14 people have been discharged so far, including the three patients from Kerala who were discharged last month.

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