After initiating a 'serosurvey' for Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in select districts of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) on Thursday, has issued guidelines for states to conduct RT-PCR based pool sampling. The department has allowed this for a one-time usage in institutional quarantine facilities for migrant workers and international passengers. The department has stated that 'pool sampling' must be used for surveillance purposes and has allowed its usage in green zones (no case in 21 days).
On Tuesday, ICMR announced that it has initiated a community-based sero-survey to estimate the prevalence of the COVID-19 infection among the Indian population. The household-level cross-sectional survey is expected to cover over 24,000 adults distributed equally across four strata of 69 districts from 21 states categorised on the basis of COVID-19 reported cases. The 'sero-survey' will involve testing of blood serum of a group of 400 samples from 10 clusters to monitor trends of novel coronavirus or SARS-COV-2 infection at the district level. The agencies will also replace RT-PCR based testing for surveillance purposes with ELISA-based testing subsequently.
While ICMR had earlier allowed pool testing in states, it clarified that pool sampling was to be used 'surveillance purposes' only. In an earlier press briefing, ICMR scientist Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar had stated that only places where the possibility of seropositivity is less than 2%, 5 samples can be collected and tested to ascertain the growth trend of the virus. He stated that ICMR had not recommended individual diagnosis using pool testing because it can increase the price of testing.
On May 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification extending the nationwide lockdown by 2 weeks from May 4. While considerable relaxations in districts falling in green and orange zones allowed by MHA continue to remain in place, the Prime Minister has announced lockdown 4.0 from May 18 with even more relaxations. The Union Health Ministry has divided districts across the nation as red (classified based on total active cases, doubling rate, the extent of testing and surveillance) - 130 districts, orange (those neither in green or red zones) - 284 districts and green zones (Zero cases for past 21 days) - 319 districts. Currently, India has 78003 cases with 2549 deaths.