One thousand kits each will be made available in all 14 districts.

COVID-19 Kerala begins antibody tests to strengthen community surveillanceImage for representation
Coronavirus Coronavirus Tuesday, June 09, 2020 - 09:50

Kerala has begun antibody tests to further strengthen the community surveillance system that is expected to help in providing early warning signals and epidemiological information. This is to identify community transmission of COVID-19 and herd immunity in specific populations. The state so far resorts to RT-PCR tests. The antibody tests will supplement this.

“The state has accessed 14,000 testing kits for the antibody test,” a health department source told TNM.

One thousand kits each will be made available in all 14 districts.

As per guidelines issued by the Health Department on June 5 regarding antibody tests, the population identified for community surveillance is divided into groups based on potential exposure status.

The first group includes health workers like doctors, nurses and paramedical staff who are involved in patient care in both the government and private sector. Under the sub-division in this category are healthcare workers involved in COVID-19 patient care and healthcare workers in non-COVID hospitals.

The second group includes government or associated functionaries with maximum public contact and guest workers. Sub-categories include policemen on enforcement duty, field level health workers like health inspectors, personnel deployed by the Local Self Government Department (LSGD), ASHA workers, anganwadi workers, courier agents, food delivery persons and media personnel reporting from the field. Persons working at ration shops, food and grocery delivery and personnel running community kitchens, barbers, shops etc also come under this.

People who don't have any travel history and who have come in close contact with interstate truck drivers like head load workers, vendors in the market, street vendors, warehouse-in-charges, those at vehicle transit camps like cleaners, repairmen, tea sellers etc also fall under the second category.

Guest workers residing in the state are also included.

The third group is of people under home or institutional quarantine.

The fourth group includes people above 60 and the fifth group includes patients from the general population. This includes patients in the general population with Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) within the last ten days. However, these are not suspected cases of COVID-19 in non-COVID hospitals. 

The fifth category would also test samples from specific groups of people as per recommendations by the epidemiological investigation team from time to time. These people shouldn't have had contact history with COVID-19 cases or travel history outside Kerala.

Further, the fifth group includes samples of people who have returned to the state after May 7 from outside the country or the state. The samples are to be taken after 14 days of arrival in Kerala. Of this, 40% preference should be given to international expatriates and to those from outside the state and 20% to those with travel history outside Kerala.

On the human resources of the Health Department for conducting the antibody test, Nodal Officer of COVID-19 in Kerala, Dr Amar Fettle, told TNM that it is feasible to go ahead with existing staff strength. “It would be done in a structured manner in the way it should be,” he said. 

Read:

COVID-19: What is ELISA, the antibody test developed by ICMR-NIV Pune?

Kerala’s Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology develops rapid antibody test kit

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