Using rapid antibody test kits, the Chhattisgarh Health Department has managed to find the source of infection in the only hotspot in the state, Katghora, in Korba district, officials said on Monday.
The 22-year-old man (or the source), identified as “Patient 0”, was found to have antibodies through the rapid test, even though his swab test had come back negative. Earlier this month, a 16-year-old boy was first found with the virus in Katghora. Given laxity in the quarantine process, as many as 25 confirmed cases soon emerged in Katghora, after which it was declared a hotspot in the state. While the state Health Department was involved in containment in the area, its other priority was to find the source of infection. “The boy had come from Kamptee, Maharashtra. He had neither gone to Nizammudin markaz (of Tablighi Jamaat), nor were any of his contacts found positive. So we did not know how he contracted the virus,” an official said. On Monday, the mystery was solved after one of his friends was found to have COVID antibodies during rapid testing. “The man (friend) had traveled to Nizamuddin. He had then traveled with the 16-year-old from Gondiya to Katghora; they stayed together,” the official said.
The man, who had also been quarantined, had had the infection and became a carrier, before he was cured, a source privy to said. “Since he had travel history to Nizamuddin, he was under observation. But now we can be sure (that he was the source), as his body shows presence of antibodies against the virus,” a local Health official said.
Chhattisgarh currently has 4,500 rapid-testing kits and is set to get 75,000 more from a South Korean firm in the next few days. State Health Minister T S Singh Deo said: “Rapid tests give us three indicators: either you don’t have the virus infection, or you had it and have now recovered, or you are positive. The kits are currently being used at the hotspot. Based on the results, we can start spacing them out, checking larger groups faster. We have started testing from Sunday with these kits, and as and when more come we will deploy them across the state.”