NEW DELHI: Health workers constitued 5 per cent of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, till April 30, a report by the scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research along with other collaborators has revealed.
The study published in the ICMR’s Indian Journal of Medical Research revealed that of the total 40,184 confirmed cases in the country till the end of last month, 2,082 or nearly 5.2 per cent of them were healthcare workers including those with symptoms and those without who had come in contact with infected people without adequate protection.
The number of symptomatic healthcare workers who tested positive for coronavirus stood at 947 while this number was 1,135 for the other category.
This is the first time the government agency has released some data related to the prevalence of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers in the country.
The study titled “Laboratory surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in India: Performance of testing & descriptive epidemiology of detected COVID-19, January 22 - April 30, 2020” is based on analysis of 1,021,518 samples tested till April 30, 3.9% of whom had tested positive.
The study carried out by ICMR scientists along with researchers at the WHO, Public Health Foundation of India and some independent public health specialists found that the proportion of positive cases was the highest among symptomatic and asymptomatic contacts, 2-3-fold higher than among those with severe acute respiratory illnesses or those with an international travel history or contact with healthcare workers.
The analysis noted that 6.1 per cent of all hospitalized SARI patients tested positive for COVID-19—recording a significant rise in the percentage of people testing positive, compared to the data released last (till April 2) when this percentage was at 2.8.
The study also said that over 2 per cent of all who had influenza like symptoms in hotspots also tested positive. This, together with positivity rate among SARI patients, is an indicator of growing community transmission of the infectious disease in India.
The researchers noted that of the total infections, 25.3 per cent were asymptomatic family contacts, 10.6 per cent were symptomatic contacts and 10.5 per cent were SARI patients.
Among the 12,810 cases with reported symptoms at the time of specimen collection, cough and fever were the most commonly reported symptoms and around one-third of cases reported sore throat and breathlessness.
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea were reported by less than 5 per cent of cases.
The study also said that the attack rate (per million population) was the highest among those aged 50-59 and 60-69 years (64.9 and 61.8, respectively) and was lowest among those under 10 years. While the per cent positive among tested was slightly higher among females (4.2 versus 3.8 %), the attack rate (per million population) was higher among males (41.6).
States with the highest proportion of districts reporting positive cases included Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The states with the highest test positivity were Maharashtra, Delhi (7.8%), Gujarat (6.3%), Madhya Pradesh (6.1%) and West Bengal (5.8%).