COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 in Haryana: Study reveals 8 per cent sero-positivity across 22 districts surveyed

Print edition : October 09, 2020

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar addresses the media at Gurugram post his recovery from COVID-19 on September 14. He was diagnosed COVID-19 positive on August 24 and underwent treatment at a private hospital in Gurugram. Photo: PTI

A sero-surveillance study conducted in 22 districts of Haryana in August revealed an 8 per cent sero-positivity in the sample surveyed, even as the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Haryana crossed 1,00,000 in September.

Haryana was among the few States in North India which had witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases in March and April, its trajectory more or less mirroring that in neighbouring Delhi. Yet, while Delhi soon overtook almost every other State, the progression of the infection in Haryana was gradual. Initially it was confined to the highly urbanised and populated districts adjoining Delhi but soon enough it spread to the rest of the State. This was despite the strict lockdown measures, including clamping down on the movement of persons on the road, sometimes with brutal force. Migrant workers from outside Haryana, who comprised the industrial and agricultural labour work force, were treated with hostility by the State in the initial weeks of the lockdown. Many of the workers simply left.

Between August 16 and September 16, the number of confirmed cases more than doubled, from 47,153 to 1,01,316. Until August 21, the daily number of infections was below 1,000. On August 21, 1,203 cases were reported, after which there was a drastic escalation in the daily number of cases.

By the first week of September, more than 2,000 infections were reported each day. On September 12, as many as 2,783 infections were reported, which was a new record. Like neighbouring Rajasthan, the total number of confirmed cases had crossed 1,00,000. On August 24, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was diagnosed COVID-19 positive. He was treated at a leading private facility in Gurugram and is reportedly stable.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was in the spotlight recently for the prolonged agitation by women health workers in the State. Many health workers, especially the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) who were at the forefront of testing and surveying people with symptoms, have themselves tested positive but have not received the benefit of treatment or care.

State sero-survey

A sero-surveillance study was done in 22 districts in August by the State Health Department and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme to determine the extent of the infection in the general population and at the community level. Although initially the survey was planned for two months, it was completed within a month. It revealed an 8 per cent seropositivity in the sample surveyed. This effectively meant that 8 per cent (22.4 lakh) of the population (2.98 crore) had probably been infected at some stage or the other, and had developed antibodies. The Haryana seropositivity rate was much lower than the seropositivity rate in Delhi (23 per cent) or Mumbai (33 per cent).

The Haryana survey was conducted in 19,611 homes and a total of 18,905 samples were collected. In each district, 850 persons were tested from 16 clusters. Sixty per cent of the samples were taken from rural areas. The State’s population itself is in a 60:40 ratio, with rural areas more populous than urban areas, although urban areas were likely to have more concentrated and densely populated settlements as opposed to a dispersed populace in rural areas. The prevalence rates showed wide variation among districts. If it was 25 per cent in Faridabad, it was 20 per cent in Nuh. Four districts had a seroprevalence between 10 and13 per cent and in eight districts it was in the range of 8 to10 per cent. Nine districts had a seroprevalence of over 8 per cent (State average) while the remaining 13 had less than 8 per cent, with some such as Rohtak with a rate of 1.1 per cent.

But there was little correlation between the seroprevalence rates and the mortality rates. For instance, Nuh, which is part of the Mewat region inhabited by Meo Muslims, had a high seroprevalence rate but a very low death rate. On the other hand, Faridabad was a major contributor to both cases and deaths. Gurugram, also a major contributor to case and death numbers, had a seroprevalence rate of 10.8 per cent. Higher positivity rates were found in urban areas of districts, which indicated that populated areas were more likely to have higher seroprevalence rates. Rural prevalence was estimated at 6.9 per cent, while in urban areas it was 9.59 per cent. The seropositivity among women was lower than that in men, which approximated the national pattern of fewer women being infected compared with men.

A total of 1,026 persons have died until date, with the maximum numbers reported from Faridabad (195), Gurugram (151), Karnal (78), Kurukshetra (65), Ambala (62), Panipat (59), Sonipat (52) Panchkula (51) and Yamunanagar (42). The districts which had the least number of deaths were Mahendargarh, Jhajjar, Nuh, Jind and Charkhi Dadri. Of the total deaths so far, 865 persons had comorbidities. The Case Fatality Rate (CFR) was 1.04 per cent while the recovery rate was 78 per cent, approximating the national average.

As of September 15, there were a total of 20,430 active cases with a positivity rate of 6.45 per cent. According to the State bulletin, a total of 329 people were on critical support, of which 272 were on oxygen support and 57 were on ventilator. The State had conducted 60,618 tests per million and the doubling rate of cases was 27 days.

Haryana is ranked 15 among 35 States and Union Territories that have reported confirmed COVID-19 cases. With Unlock 4 currently under way, and the State having opened its borders and resumed much of its activity, including religious gatherings, the rise in the number of infections is not surprising. As part of its measures to survey and identify infections, the government had made it mandatory for all teaching staff in private or government schools to get themselves tested by September 21 as schools are to open from that date onwards.