AT LEAST 12 per cent people, residing in Panchkula, are estimated to have contracted the novel coronavirus while going undetected, the state-level sero survey conducted on October 12 & 13 has found. The percentage of positivity is below the state average of 14.8 per cent. The results of the survey were made public on Monday.
In the first round of sero survey conducted in September by the PGIMER across Haryana, the district positivity rate had stood at 6.5 per cent — below the state average of 8 per cent then. The positivity rate in rural areas was estimated to be 8.5 per cent while it had stood at 3.7 per cent in urban areas of the district. This was in contrast to the state average where the case count was found to be higher in urban areas.
The positivity rate in rural areas is 11.5 per cent while it is 11.9 per cent in urban areas of the district, as per the survey.
Higher positivity rates have been found in urban areas across the state. Haryana has reported a positivity rate of 11.4 per cent in rural and 19.8 per cent in urban areas.
How were the samples taken?
In the survey conducted across the state, as many as 720 samples were collected by each district. While 60 per cent samples were collected from rural areas, 40 per cent were collected from the urban areas.
The district had been divided into 16 clusters, 12 of which were identified as the rural areas and four as the urban areas. While 432 samples were collected from the rural areas, 311 were collected from the urban areas of the district.
The samples were collected voluntarily and on a special mobile application created for the tests. “Our teams were told of the areas they had to go to. So we conducted the test in, say, Sector 25 of the city. So our team of four complete with a doctor, a technician and ASHA along with Anganwadi worker would begin from the very centre of the sector, say, from house number 1 and would spread outside in four different quadrants. They would approach the house of a person and ask them for voluntary check-up. If the person agreed, his details would be put into the application and sample would be taken,” said Dr Saroj Aggarwal, deputy civil surgeon, Panchkula.
The areas which were randomly selected for the sampling at urban areas included MDC Sector 4, Sector 12A, Sector 25 and Sector 8 of the city. Four PHCs which were tested in rural parts of the district comprised Morni with sub-centres Bhoj Koti, Thathar; Surajpur with sub-centres Chandi Jhanda and Rajipur; Raipurrani with sub-centres Manak Tabra, Batwal; and Hangola with sub-centres Ganouli and Ferozpur.
Area-wise results, what they mean
While Sector 25 recorded the highest positivity rate of 18 per cent in urban areas, Sector 12A recorded the lowest at 4 per cent. Both MDC-4 and Sector 8 had a prevalence rate of 8 per cent.
In the rural Panchkula, Chandi Thanda area of Surajpur reported the highest positivity rate of 31 per cent which was followed by Manak Tabra which has a positivity percentage of 22. Bhoj Koti, meanwhile, reported a zero per cent positivity rate.
The doctors in the district had predicted and expected a positivity rate of around 10 per cent at the time of collection of samples. “We expect the number to rise from 6.5 per cent to something above 10 per cent since we have had our peak in September,” Dr Saroj had told The Indian Express.
As for the sample size taken, and the generalisation of the results to the whole population, she said, “The sample size for medical studies is generally kept low. It really depends on the kind of study being conducted. This is a very good sample size for a health survey across a state. The survey has been conducted to develop strategies for our next surge and to outline further steps. We feel we would rather focus on areas where sero prevalence is less as those would be the areas that would need more attention. A strategy will surely be developed at both district as well as state level.”
Further steps to be taken by district in view of results
Chief Medical Officer of Panchkula, Dr Jasjeet Kaur, said, “The deviation noticed from last surveillance is not significantly high. Community spread is also not visible. Urban areas as per the last survey had more sero positivity. Against our expectations, Morni is still showing very low prevalence which is welcome.”
Expecting the numbers to peak again by November-end and early December, she said, “As per the results, people should continue with COVID-appropriate behaviour. We will start sampling more aggressively now on. Preparedness for second surge is better but when and how severe the second surge will be is a little difficult question. We expect numbers to take a steep rise again, somewhere towards end of November.”
The doctors have advised extreme precaution at this time as the chances of contracting the virus may increase. “With a dip in temperatures, resistance in human decreases as well. Cases of swine flu, pneumonia as well as respiratory issues are also bound to see a rise. Though we do not yet know the exact nature of the virus, we expect all these factors will inadvertently lead to a rise in coronavirus cases as well,” Dr Saroj said.
In the sero survey of Panchkula, a total of 394 women and 350 men were sampled as part of the survey. The mean age for the persons tested was 47 years. While 35 per cent of the persons sampled were homemakers, 16 per cent were labourers and 15 per cent worked in private jobs and 13 per cent were senior citizens.
Of the total samples collected, while 92 per cent had never been tested, 1 per cent of those samples had tested positive already and almost 7 per cent had tested negative in the past. At least 13 per cent of those sampled were suffering from hypertension while more than 8 per cent had diabetes.
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