As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Vizag, the city’s municipal body, GVMC, has launched a sentinel surveillance exercise for testing people from different walks of life for coronavirus.
Speaking with Yo! Vizag, GVMC Chief Medical Officer (Health), Dr KSLG Sastry informed that apart from collecting samples from hotspots, tests are also being conducted at railway station, airport, and quarantine centres. He mentioned that taking the COVID-19 testing strategy a step forward in Vizag, the civic body has undertaken the sentinel surveillance exercise to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 within communities. Sharing further details, Mr Sastry said, “As a part of the surveillance, frontline workers including police personnel, ANMs, ASHA workers, ward volunteers, and others on COVID-19 duty will be tested for the virus. We have begun testing at places that are likely to witness gatherings in significant numbers. So far, samples have been collected at MVP Rythu Bazar, Rythu Bazar at Bullayya College, CMR Shopping Mall, and Gyanapuram wholesale market. We are also planning to hold this exercise at other public places too in the coming days.”
Stating that the GVMC has decided to adopt this testing strategy to uncover new clusters where the virus may be spreading quietly, Dr KSLG Sastry said, “People are infected days before they develop the symptoms. So our approach is to have an adaptive strategy, which also factors in time. Our plan is not to wait but to test quickly as many individuals as we can.” Despite the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Vizag, the GVMC CMO pointed out that the tally of the city is relatively low when compared to other cities in the country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a sentinel surveillance system is used when high-quality data is needed about a particular disease that cannot be obtained through a passive system. Data collected in a well-designed sentinel system can be used to signal trends, identify outbreaks and monitor the burden of disease in a community, providing a rapid, economical alternative to other surveillance methods.