ICMR rapid survey underway in Hyderabad’s 5 containment zones

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) on Saturday began a rapid survey in five containment zones in Hyderabad to understand the SARS-CoV-2 infection among the urban population in Telangana.

The ICMR and NIN teams with the help of the state government officials will collect 100 samples on Saturday and Sunday.

Assisted by personnel from the health department, district administration, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, ASHA workers and police, the teams were collecting samples in Miyapur, Tappachabutra, Adibatla, Chandangar and Balapur zones.

Under the random survey, 100 samples will be collected from each zone. “We are collecting samples from one person from every randomly selected house after collecting all the data about the number of members in the household and their health status,” a NIN official said.

The ICMR has selected 13 hotspot cities in the country for the rapid survey to know the spread of Covid-19. Hyderbad is one of the hotspot cities. Since Hyderabad-based NIN is one of the ICMR institutes, it was also roped in to conduct the survey.

The serum samples will be sent to the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Chennai and the results are likely to come after two weeks.

Officials involved in the survey said the samples were not being taken from suspects but from houses picked randomly.

For the rapid survey, 10 teams and five coordinators from ICMR-NIN are supported by the state health authorities, district administrations of Hyderabad and Rangareddy, GHMC, district medical personnel and grassroot level health functionaries.

NIN Director R. Hemalatha said the rapid survey was aimed at monitoring the trends of community transmission of Covid-19, if any, among the urban population.

This is part of the ICMR’s district level sero-surveillance survey that was taken up in Jangaon, Kamareddy and Nalgonda wherein 1200 samples were collected for analysis in the first phase.

Under the first phase, ICMR covered 69 districts in 21 states across the country, including three districts in Telangana, and the results are awaited.

“In the current phase, similar surveillance survey is proposed in 13 hotspot cities in India of which Hyderabad happens to be one. In the city, five containment zones have been selected randomly and 500 adults with 100 per containment zone will be randomly covered in the study,” NIN researchers said.

“While this ends the first phase of the study, ICMR proposes to carry out four more rounds of survey in the coming months at different time points in the same rural and urban clusters. This initial phase would serve as a baseline to determine the sero-prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) infection in the community, while the subsequent rounds would help to monitor the trends of infection among the population of the select zones. The study findings will be useful to guide in designing and implementing appropriate public health preventive measures,” said Dr Hemalatha.

Earlier, NIN in association with the state government had taken up a house-to-house survey in 30 villages across Jangaon, Kamareddy and Nalgonda districts as part of the community based sero-surveillance.

Researchers say since SARS-CoV-2 causes asymptomatic infection, sero-surveillance is strongly recommended for active case finding, testing and contact tracing.

Surveillance of antibody-based sero-positivity indicates the extent of the spread of the infection in the given population and forms the basis for strengthening public health mitigation measures. Household based studies can generate evidence on the role of asymptomatic and mild infections in transmission.

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