The risk of exposure to the virus in urban slums was twice that of the risk in non-slum urban areas and four times the risk in rural settings, said ICMR DG Balram Bhargava
New Delhi: One in 15 individuals aged 10 years and above were estimated to be exposed to SARS-CoV2 by August 2020, showing that a considerable population is still susceptible to COVID-19, according to the ICMR’s second sero-survey findings released on Tuesday.
Presenting the nationwide sero-survey at a press briefing, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said 6.6 percent of the 29,082 people (aged 10 and above) surveyed from 17 August to 22 September showed evidence of past exposure to COVID-19 and 7.1 percent of the adult population (aged 18 and above) also showed evidence of past exposure to it.
He said lockdown, containment and behavioral change at the population level have effectively checked the potential spread of SARS-CoV2, however, the survey findings show that a considerable population is still vulnerable and susceptible to coronavirus.
He further said that the risk in urban slums was twice that of the risk in non-slum urban areas and four times the risk in rural settings.
“Urban slums (15.6 percent) and non-slum (8.2 percent) areas had higher SARS-COV2 infection prevalence than that in rural areas (4.4 percent),” he said quoting the second sero-survey.
“One in 15 individuals aged 10 years and above were estimated to be exposed to SARS- CoV2 by August 2020,” Bhargava said.
The second sero-survey was conducted in the same 700 villages and wards from 70 districts from 21 states which were covered during the first survey.
The first sero-survey of May 2020 revealed that the nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection was only 0.73 percent.
The second survey further showed that there is a lower infection to case ratio in August compared to May which reflects a substantial increase in testing and detection across India.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India has 4,453 COVID-19 cases and 70 deaths per million population which is among the lowest in the world.
NITI Aayog member VK Paul urged people to keep following COVID appropriate behaviour, saying there is no reason to become lax if stability in coronavirus cases is observed.
“We need to have Puja, Chhath, Diwali and Eid with masks, it is very important to keep that in mind. We have seen a second peak in Delhi, Kerala and Punjab so we should not get lax and keep following COVID-appropriate behaviour,” he said.
People are more prone to respiratory infections like pneumonia and influenza in the coming winter months and festive seasons and “we have to put in all efforts, stay vigilant and diligently follow COVID-appropriate behaviour”, Paul said.