BENGALURU (Reuters) – Coronavirus infection rates among adults in India have risen sharply, a survey showed on Tuesday, although a large percentage of the population has not yet been exposed, suggesting there is scope for cases to rise much further.
In the serological survey conducted in August and September, blood samples were tested for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. If a person tests positive for the antibodies, it means they were infected with the virus at some point.
Blood samples collected from more than 29,000 adults between Aug. 17 and Sept. 22 showed that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies increased to 7.1% compared to 0.73% in a previous survey between May 11 and June 4, the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Balram Bhargava, told a press briefing.
“However, a large percentage of the population is still unexposed and the susceptibility of a considerable section of people getting infected exists,” he added.
The second survey was conducted in the same 700 villages and wards from 70 districts in 21 states as the first. Results from the second survey also showed urban slum and non-slum areas had a higher infection prevalence than rural areas.
“The new (survey) shows lockdown and containment measures as well as behaviour change at population level checked spread of SARS-CoV-2,” Bhargava said.
India on Tuesday reported 70,589 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking its total to 6.15 million cases. The country leads the world in the daily average number of new infections reported.
The vice-president of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu, said in a tweet late on Tuesday that he had tested positive and has been advised to home quarantine as he remains asymptomatic.
In the past, several other federal ministers have also tested positive.
(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Nupur Anand; editing by Barbara Lewis and Giles Elgood)