Coronavirus | Urban slum population most vulnerable to COVID-19 spread: ICMR

India overtakes U.K. with fourth highest COVID-19 tally in world

June 11, 2020 06:27 pm | Updated June 12, 2020 10:02 am IST - New Delhi

A man walks inside a makeshift COVID-19 quarantine facility inside a college in Mumbai on June 11, 2020.

A man walks inside a makeshift COVID-19 quarantine facility inside a college in Mumbai on June 11, 2020.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday asserted that the country is definitely not in COVID-19 community transmission phase, and released the results of the first sero-survey on the pandemic spread that stated the urban slum population was most vulnerable to the spread, followed by urban settlement.

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“The ICMR has calculated that compared to rural areas, the risk of spread was 1.09 times higher in urban areas and 1.89 times higher in urban slums. The infection fatality rate is very low at 0.08%,’’ ICMR Director General Dr. Balram Bhargava said at a press meet.

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The sero-surveillance study, conducted in 83 districts covering 28,595 households and 26,400 individuals by the ICMR along with other agencies in May, also reveals that 0.73% of the population surveyed showed evidence of past exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

India on Thursday overtook the United Kingdom to become the country with the fourth highest incidence of COVID-19. With a spike of 11,000 new cases, the tally rose to 2,97,928, which includes, 1,42,715 active cases. The death toll rose to 8,497, a jump of 392 from the previous day. According to the country-wise tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University, the total cases in the U.K. stood at 2,92,854.

Dr. Bhargava said, “This only means that a large portion of the population must continue following COVID appropriate behaviour suggested by the government from time to time. But we have to continue with our strategy of testing, tracing, tracking, quarantine and containment measures. The elderly, chronic morbidities, pregnant women and children less 10 years of age need to be protected as they fall in the high-risk category susceptible to COVID-19.’’

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The sero-surveillance study has two parts. The primary task of estimating the fraction of people who have been infected in general population has been completed and the second objective of estimating the infected population in containment zones of hotspot cities is in the process of completion.

NITI Aayog member V. K. Paul noted during the press conference that India’s ability to keep the pandemic at these levels was a big achievement but he warned that the country should not lower its guard and be prepared tackle the virus in the coming months.


Speaking at the press conference about the growing number of cases in Delhi, the question of community transmission in the Capital, and country-wide death reports compiled based on State data, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Health Ministry said: “If we get caught in grammar and let go of field action we will suffer. Also if the States take a day or two more in conducting ‘death audit’ and a change in numbers arises due to it, then, in next 2-3 days numbers are accounted for.’’

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Maharashtra review

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, along with senior health officials, held a meeting with Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope and noted that all 36 districts of the State were COVID-19-affected.

Dr. Vardhan noted that the increase in number of containment zones here needed immediate attention. “Vulnerability mapping of densely populated areas should be done for effective containment strategy to be put in place. Also, rise in case fatality rate should be looked into along with tests done per million population,” he said.

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Maharashtra has been advised to strengthen its ICUs, number of ventilators and testing labs while managing human resource and quality of health care. “The State was also advised to ensure focus on essential medical services with special care for pregnant women along with services like blood collection/transfusion, chemotherapy, dialysis,’’ noted a Health Ministry release.

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