The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has been conducting random sampling tests on patients from various states for the last few weeks. The goal of this exercise is to determine whether community transmission of coronavirus is taking place or not. The latest report by the ICMR suggests that community transmission may be taking place in clusters across India.
The ICMR between February 15 and April 2, had tested 5,911 SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses) patients for the coronavirus. The results showed that 104 were tested positive for the coronavirus. The patients tested positive were from 52 districts in 20 states and Union Territories.
The alarming fact was that out of the 104, 40 patients were such who had no history of foreign travel or had come in contact with any foreign traveller. These patients were from 36 districts spread across 15 states.
The ICMR report said, "These districts need to be prioritised to target COVID-19 containment activities. Only two cases ( two per cent of those tested positive) reported contact with a confirmed case, one case ( one per cent of those tested positive) reported recent international travel, and, for about 59 such cases (57.8 per cent), exposure history was not available."
The first ICMR study results released in early March had said that no SARI patient had tested positive for the coronavirus. The ICMR also conducted tests between March 15 and March 21 this time they had included SARI patients but only two out of the 106 SARI patients were found positive. In the third round of testing, done in late March, 48 out of the 2,877 patients tested were found positive for the coronavirus.
The second report also shows a higher number of cases among men and patients aged above 50 years. Detection of COVID-19 among SARI patients increased from 0 per cent before March 14, to 2.6 per cent by April 2.
The conclusion of the report stated, "COVID-19 containment activities need to be targeted in districts reporting COVID-19 cases among SARI patients. Intensifying surveillance for COVID-19 among SARI patients may be an efficient tool to effectively use resources towards containment and mitigation efforts."
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