Around 27.3% of Karnataka’s over 7 crore population may have been exposed to the covid-19 virus, according to the findings of a sero survey carried out by the state government.

According to the Karnataka government, the sero survey estimates that around 1.93 crore or 27.3% of the state’s population are either currently infected or already had the infection in the past, as of 16 September 2020.

The same survey has found that this number is around 30% in Bengaluru, one of the worst affected regions in the country.

“The whole idea of doing such a survey is to understand the prevalence of covid-19 in Karnataka,” K.Sudhakar, Karnataka’s health minister said on Wednesday in Bengaluru.

The survey was carried out on 15,624 persons in 290 hospitals on persons above the age of 18 across all 30 districts of the state. However, experts point out that this could be an overestimation since the survey was carried out only in hospitals. The findings of the survey are also from September when the active case count was more than double of the over 40,000 mark.

The survey also found that 16.4% in the state who were already infected and 22% in Bengaluru had developed antibodies against the virus.

The survey provides an indication of the regions which have already witnessed a surge and those that are likely to see a rise in infections.

“Overall we feel that we are somewhere midway. Some districts are yet to see a surge,” said Dr. Giridhar R Babu, one of the principal investigators of the survey and Professor and Head Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India.

His statements also indicate that the worst may not yet be over for Karnataka.

Though Bengaluru is one of the most impacted regions in the state and country, parts like west and south zones have seen a higher number of cases than Yelahanka and Mahadevpura among others.

The mineral-rich district of Ballari had the highest prevalence of 43.1%, followed by Davangere, Udupi, Vijayapura and Raichur at 40.6%, 36.4%, 35.4% and 34.1% respectively.

The lowest prevalence of 8.7% was in the northern district of Dharwad, according to the findings.

Babu said that this gives the state the information to channel their resources to regions where a surge is expected to better contain the virus and its impact on health.

Karnataka is one of the worst affected covid-19 regions in Karnataka and has recorded a total of 8,32,396 cases so far of which 40,395 and at least 11,247 have lost their lives to the virus.

The national seroprevalence survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical research found a seroprevalence of 0.7% in the first round (May) and 7.1% in the second round (August-September).

Sudhakar said that the sero survey will be conducted in December and March again.

He said that the survey included people from low to high risk population and used Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and RT-PCR for the diagnosis of acute infection.

Karnataka’s mortality rate remains at 0.05%, the minister added.

The study recommends the establishment of district-level facility-based sentinel sero-surveillance to monitor the trend of infections in the long term.

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