With Covid-19 cases continuing to soar in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has issued new guidelines to increase testing and sampling at the district level.
The MoHFW has issued new guidelines to increase testing and sampling at the district level. The new sampling procedure will act as a method of trend-checking and will be used to test healthcare workers, non-respiratory disease patients and pregnant women. "There is a need to establish systematic surveillance for Covid-19 infections in all districts of the country. This surveillance will be in addition to the routine testing under the current testing guidelines," the MoHFW note read.
"Besides facility-based surveillance, the ICMR/NCDC, in collaboration with key stakeholders and state health departments, is initiating a population-based serosurvey in select districts representing case detection across the country," the ministry said. The new guidelines come even as the number of coronavirus cases in India has been rising rapidly.
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What is a serosurvey?
A serosurvey is a test of blood serum taken from a group of individuals to determine seroprevalence. It involves testing of blood serum of a group of people to monitor trends in the prevalence of the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19 infection, at the district level.
How will district-level sampling be conducted?
The surveillance unit will consist of 10 health facilities (6 public and 4 private) from each district. Among low-risk parts of population, outpatient attendees (non-ILI patients) and pregnant women will be tested, while healthcare workers will also be surveyed in parts of high-risk population .
At least 100 samples per week and 400 per month from select districts among the high-risk population, 50 samples per week and 200 per month of outpatient attendees (Non-ILI patients), as well as pregnant women will be collected.
The survey will include a total of 200 samples per week and 800 samples per month for the purpose.
Throat and nasal swabs will be collected for RT-PCR tests and samples will be tested in a one-time pool of 25.
Blood samples will be collected for detecting IgG antibodies for ELISA testing. In subsequent rounds, IgG ELISA-based testing of serum samples will replace RT-PCR-based testing for surveillance purposes," the ministry has said.
Sampling only for surveillance purposes
Results of this sample pooling are only for surveillance purposes. It should not be used for diagnosis of individual patients, the health ministry has said.
The data will be analysed locally for action using standard indicator formats. Indicators for person, place, time and trend analysis will then be made.