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India not in community transmission stage, states cannot lower guard, says ICMR

The sero-survey has found that 0.73 per cent of the population in the districts surveyed had evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 11, 2020 10:29:46 pm
Coronavirus, Coronavirus testing, Coronavirus false negatives, Coronavirus testing centres, COVID testing A medic collects swab sample of a suspected Covid-19 patient for testing at Rajiv Gandhi Super hospital in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Express photo/Amit Mehra)

Insisting that India is not in the community transmission stage, the government on Thursday said the country’s first sero-survey on Covid-19 spread has found that lockdown and containment measures were successful in controlling a rapid rise of infections, but a large proportion of the population still remains susceptible.

“India is not in community transmission. We have to continue with our strategy of testing, tracing, tracking, quarantine and containment measures; we should not give up our guard on these,” Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said while addressing a media briefing.

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Bhargava’s comments came two days after Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the source of Covid-19 infection in 50 per cent of the cases in the national capital was unknown and that it was up to the Centre to declare whether the city had entered the community transmission phase. Health Ministry’s Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal too put to rest questions on community transmission in Delhi saying, “If we get caught in grammar and let go of field action, we will suffer.”

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The sero-survey has two parts, the first being, estimate fraction of population that has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, in general population and the second being, estimate fraction of population that has been infected with the coronavirus in containment zones of hotspot cities, Bhargava said, adding that the first part has been completed while the second is underway.

Launched in May by the ICMR in collaboration with state health departments, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the study involves surveying of a total of 83 districts with 26,400 people enrolling for it, the ICMR chief said.

The figure that was shared with the media stated that data from 65 districts has been compiled till now. The sero-survey has found that 0.73 per cent of the population in the districts surveyed had evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2, Bhargava said.

Explained: What is community transmission, the Covid-19 phase Delhi health minister hinted city has hit?

He said that a large proportion of the population is still susceptible and that risk is higher in urban areas (1.09 times) and urban slums (1.89 times) than rural areas. It found that infection fatality rate is very low at 0.08 per cent and infection in containment zones were found to be high with significant variations, but the survey is still ongoing, he said.

“Efforts to limit the scale and spread of the disease will have to be continued by strong implementation of containment strategies by states. The states cannot lower their guard and need to keep on implementing effective surveillance and containment strategies,” Bhargava said.

India saw the highest single-day spike of 357 fatalities and 9,996 cases on Thursday, pushing the death toll to 8,102 and the nationwide tally to 2,86,579, according to the Union Health Ministry data. India continued to remain the fifth worst-affected country after the US, Brazil, Russia and the UK.

With PTI inputs

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