Antibodies against the COVID-19 infection were found in eight per cent of people in the sero-prevalence survey done in Haryana last month and those living in urban areas and NCR districts were found more affected, Health Minister Anil Vij said on Friday. As many as 850 samples each were collected from 22 districts and the collection was done both in urban and rural areas.
Overall, 18,905 samples were collected and the sero-prevalence study showed that the sero-positivity of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is eight per cent in the state, Vij said. He said that the urban population was affected more than the rural population.
The sero-positivity observed that in urban areas the rate is 9.59 per cent and in rural areas it is 6.9 per cent, said Vij while addressing a press conference from his Ambala residence digitally. National Capital Region (NCR) districts like Faridabad and Gurgaon had high sero-positivity rates.
It was 25.8 per cent in Faridabad, the highest in the state, followed by Nuh at over 20 per cent and Sonipat at 13.3 per cent, according to the survey. Urban Faridabad had the highest positivity rate at 31.1 per cent and 22.2 per cent in rural areas, while Nuh had 30.3 per cent positivity in urban areas and 13.9 per cent in rural.
The positivity rate was 18.5 per cent in urban Gurgaon and 5.7 per cent in rural segments of the district. The survey was done to gauge the penetration of COVID-19 in the population and monitor its transmission trend.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex health research body in the country, had advised states in June to conduct the survey to assess the proportion of population, including asymptomatic individuals, exposed to the coronavirus infection. A sero-survey involves testing the blood serum of a group of individuals for the presence of antibodies against the infection to know who has been infected in the past and has now recovered.
Higher sero-positivity than the state average was recorded in districts like Karnal 12.2 per cent , Jind (11 per cent), Kurukshetra (8.7 per cent), Charkhi Dadri (8.3 per cent) and Yamunanagar (8.3 per cent), as per the survey findings. The districts of Haryana which had lower sero-positivity than the state average include Panipat (7.4 per cent), Palwal (7.4 per cent), Panchkula (6.5 percent), Jhajjar (5.9 per cent), Ambala (5.2 per cent), Rewari (4.9 per cent), Sirsa (3.6 per cent), Hisar (3.4 percent), Bhiwani (3.2 percent), Mahendragarh (2.8 percent) and Kaithal (1.7 percent). Overall positivity among females in the state was 7.8 percent, with more prevalence being in districts including Bhiwani, Gurugram, Jhajjar and Mahendragarh.
Rajeev Arora, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) emphasized that although sero-positivity is higher in NCR districts as compared to non-NCR districts, the reason for the same could be high density of population due to urban slums, high rises and daily movement of large population in the NCR region. He said that as eight percent of Haryana's population has developed antibodies, the low prevalence findings can be attributed to the proactive efforts taken by the government to prevent the spread of infection including prompt lockdown, effective testing strategies, effective containment and surveillance measures including contact tracing and tracking. It also shows citizens' compliance to COVID-19 appropriate behaviours like physical distancing, following good hand hygiene and coughing etiquettes etc, he said. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. A stratified multistage random sampling technique was used. A total number of 16 clusters- 12 rural and four urban clusters were randomly selected for taking samples. Blood samples were collected from selected individuals after taking written consent and then they were tested for IgG (immunoglobulin) antibodies using ELISA test kit (designed for testing antibodies) and approved by the ICMR. Arora said that the study findings will be useful to guide in designing strategies and implementation of appropriate containment measures in Haryana. Haryana has reported over 70,000 coronavirus cases and close to 750 fatalities. The state has a healthy recovery rate of about 80 per cent currently.
Majority of the cases and fatalities are from some of the districts including Faridabad, Gurgaon and Sonipat, which fall in the NCR.