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COVID19 going community way? ICMR finds rise in n-CoV positives in SARI patients!

Sentinel Surveillance done between February 15 - April 2 shows nearly 39% of Covid-19 cases in country didn't report any travel history or having contact with a known case. 1.8% SARI patients in Odisha found Covid-19 positive

Bhubaneswar: An emergency Covid-19 alert for Odisha. Novel coronavirus positive is now being detected in patients with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) in the State. A higher positivity rate here may sound the alarm bell of community transmission of Covid-19.

As per a sentinel surveillance carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) among 107 patients in the State having severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) reveals a Covid-19 positivity rate of 1.9 per cent.

As per results of surveillance done between February 15 – April 2, nearly 39 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the country didn’t report any history of contact with known case or international travel.

Though Odisha may draw some comfort here as the 39 per cent of cases is limited to only 15 districts in the country, no district from Odisha figured in the list of Covid-19 positives without travel history or has history of contact with a known case.

However, the word of caution here is tests were conducted till April 2. And Odisha saw spike in cases post April 2.

As per ICMR, three such sentinel sites were chosen in Odisha, where 107 samples exhibiting  SARI symptoms got tested. Only 2 samples were detected with novel coronavirus. The positivity rate in SARI patients in Odisha is, thus, estimated at 1.9 per cent.

ICMR Odisha Covid-19 surveillance

In contrast, the Covid-19 positivity rate among SARI patients in Maharashtra, the worst hit state in India, stood higher at 3.8 per cent and Delhi records a rate of 5 per cent.

But the caveat here is when samples tested in Maharashtra are nearly 5-times more, samples in Delhi are two-times more than Odisha.

As the ICMR’s Sentinel Surveillance helps in identifying spread and extent of transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in community in country, the clinching revelation observed in ICMR study is Covid-19 now slowly angling at the community transmission level in country.

The evidence of interpreting so lies in the table given below. The data interpretation divulges how Covid-19 positivity rate among SARI patients are on the rise in country. Data shows how in the 14th week (March 29 – April 2), despite testing 2067 samples vis-a-vis 2877 in 13th week, the n-CoV positive rate has risen to 2.6 per cent from 1.7 per cent in the previous week.

ICMR Covid-19 surveillance

The detailed ICMR surveillance results show a total of 104 (1.8%) of the 5,911 SARI patients were tested positive for COVID-19. These cases were reported from 52 districts in 20 States/Union Territories, including 1 district in Odisha.

“In all, 40 (39.2%) COVID-19 cases did not report any history of contact with a known case or international travel,” it added. The surveillance also found that COVID-19 positivity is higher among males and patients aged above 50 years. SARI patients were tested for COVID-19 by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR), says ICMR.

The results have been taken up seriously by ICMR. Interpreting the results, ICMR observed that COVID-19 containment activities need to be targeted in districts reporting COVID-19 cases among SARI patients.

It says, “Intensifying sentinel surveillance for COVID-19 among SARI patients may be an efficient tool to effectively use resources towards containment and mitigation efforts.” And the containment strategies in such districts will only thwart the community transmission push by the lethal n-CoV, feel experts.

What is Sentinel surveillance? As per UK based scientific journal publishing giant BioMed Central (BMC), a part of Springer Nature, Sentinel surveillance is defined as a Surveillance based on selected population samples chosen to represent the relevant experience of particular groups. The primary objectives of sentinel surveillance are signalling trends and the early detection of events, such as outbreaks like Covid-19.

It’s significant to mention here that this surveillance is done at only selected sites that have high qualified medical experts and modern lab technology.

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