A serological survey conducted by India’s apex biomedical research and policy body has come to the conclusion that COVID-19 is not in the community transmission stage in the country. The chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Thursday that the prevalence of the viral infection is less than 1 percent.
"India is such a large country and the prevalence is so low, less than 1 percent in small districts, in urban areas it may be slightly higher, in the containment areas it may be still slightly higher. But definitely India is not in community transmission and I would like to emphasis it is not in community transmission", said Professor Balram Bhargava, Director General of ICMR in New Delhi.
Professor Bhargava said the lockdown and containment measures have helped to keep the virus in check.
"But we have to continue with our strategy of testing, tracing, tracking, quarantine, and containment measures. We should not give up our guard on these", said Professor Bhargava.
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The key outcome of the survey are:
- 0.73 percent of the population in these 69 districts had evidence of past exposure to COVID-19;
- Lockdown/containment has been successful in keeping it low and preventing its spread;
- A large proportion of the population is still susceptible;
- Risk is higher in urban areas (1.09) and urban slums (1.89) than rural areas; Infection fatality rate is very low, 0.08 percent.
The ICMR chief said the serological survey was conducted to provide scientific guidance in containing the COVID-19 infection and that multiple surveys would be conducted in the coming days.
India enforced a national lockdown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 from midnight on 24 March and the prolonged closure was partially lifted on 1 June. Several state governments had expressed apprehension that opening up of the lockdown would exacerbate the situation as several regions were showing upward infection trends.
The current COVID-19 tally in India is 137,448 active cases as of Thursday. Some 141,029 persons have been cured, while 8,102 people have succumbed to the viral infection so far, according to data released by the federal Health Ministry.