Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in association with the Telangana government will take up a rapid survey in five randomly selected containment areas in Hyderabad to monitor the trends of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19, if any, among the general population, on May 30 and 31, said Director R. Hemalatha on Friday.

In an official communique, the NIN director said that this programme was being taken up in five containment zones or hotspot clusters selected randomly and about 500 adults — 100 from each cluster, would be covered in the study. Hyderabad is among the 13 hotspot cities in 21 states across the country.

The ICMR had already completed a survey in 69 districts from these hotspots and three within Telangana — Jangoan, Kamareddy and Nalgonda, from where it had collected 1,200 samples a few days ago, the results of which are awaited.

Telangana health authorities, district administration of Hyderabad and Rangareddy, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), district medical personnel and grass-root level functionaries will be supporting the 10 teams and five coordinators from the ICMR-NIN, she explained.

She said earlier that SARS-CoV-2 causes asymptomatic infection for which sero-surveillance is strongly recommended for active case finding, testing, and contact tracing. Surveillance of antibody based sero-positivity indicates the extent of spread of infection in the given population. Household based studies can generate evidence on role of asymptomatic and mild infections in transmission.

“This is the first phase of the study. ICMR proposes to carry out four more rounds of surveys in the coming months at different time points in the same rural and urban clusters. This initial phase will serve as a baseline to determine the sero-prevalance of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community. Subsequent rounds will help us monitor the trends of infection among the population of selected zones. Study findings will be useful to guide in designing and implementing appropriate public health preventive measures,” added Dr. Hemalatha.

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