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Sero-surveillance study reveals only 0.73% of sample population infected with coronavirus
New Delhi, June 11, 2020
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) today stated that there was no community transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the national level and asserted that the lockdown imposed since March 25 and other measures had helped prevent the rapid spread of the deadly disease.
ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava told newspersons at a government briefing on COVID-19 that the sero-surveillance study conducted by the organisation has revealed that 0.73% of the population surveyed showed evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
ICMR conducted the first sero-survey for COVID19 in May 2020 in collaboration with state health departments, NCDC and WHO India.
The study was conducted in 83 districts covering 28,595 households and 26,400 individuals.
Bhargava said the study has two parts out of which the primary task of estimating the fraction of population who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the general population has been completed. The second objective of estimating the fraction of population which has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in containment zones of hotspot cities is in the process of completion.
He said the study also clearly points out that the measures taken during the lockdown have been successful in keeping the transmission low and in preventing rapid spread of COVID-19.
ICMR has calculated that compared to rural areas, the risk of spread is 1.09 times higher in urban areas and 1.89 times higher in urban slums. The infection fatality rate is very low at 0.08%. This only means that a large portion of the population must continue following COVID appropriate behaviour suggested by from time to time, he said.
"There is a heightened debate on community transmission. WHO has not given definition on it. India is such a large country and the prevalence is so low. The prevalence is less than one per cent in small districts. It is slightly higher in the urban areas. In the containment areas, it may be slightly higher. But, we are definite that India is not in community transmission," Bhargava said.
"I would like to emphasise that it is not in community transmission," he said.
The ICMR chief, however, said they have to continue with the strategy of testing, tracing, tracking and quarantine. He also stressed on the need to continue with the containment measures, saying "we have found success with those measures until now".
The ICMR's clarification comes amid India recording its biggest single-day jump in new coronavirus cases with 9,996 fresh infections and 357 patients dying, taking the total number of cases to nearly 2.86 lakh cases. This is the ninth consecutive day that the country -- fifth worst-hit by the pandemic -- reported over 9,000 COVID-19 cases.