In a massive development, the Union Health Ministry, on Monday, announced that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will initiate a population-based sero-survey in several districts across the nation for SARS-CoV-2 infections. This would be in addition to the routine testing done by the agencies. The ministry stated that ICMR will also test the blood samples for detecting antibodies using the indigenous ELISA-based test kits.
"Besides facility-based surveillance, ICMR/NCDC in collaboration with key stakeholders and state health departments is initiating a population-based sero-survey in selected districts representing case detection across the country," the ministry said. At least 100 samples per week and 400 per month from selected districts among the high- risk population, 50 samples per week and 200 per month from low-risk population. This survey is to be used for surveillance purposes and not for diagnosis.
The ministry explained that a 'sero-survey' will involve testing of blood serum of a group of individuals to monitor trends of novel coronavirus or SARS-COV-2 infection at the district level. The surveillance unit will consist of 10 health facilities (including 6 public and 4 private) from each district. Among the low-risk population, outpatient attendees (non-ILI patients) and pregnant women will be tested while among the high-risk population healthcare workers will be surveyed. The agencies will also replace RT-PCR based testing for surveillance purposes with ELISA-based testing subsequently.
On May 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification extending the nationwide lockdown by 2 weeks from May 4. The notification states the considerable relaxations in districts falling in green and orange zones allowed by MHA, will continue to remain in place. 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. Restrictions too have been lifted accordingly. Currently, India has 67152 cases with 2206 deaths.