The ongoing serological surveillance on COVID-19 in Odisha will focus on those below 18 years as the rate of infection among children and adolescents is on the rise for the last two weeks, officials said on Tuesday.
The rate of infection among those below 18 years has gone over 17 per cent, which is alarming, they said.
Though all previous serological surveys in Odisha were done among adults, the high rate of infection among the minors prompted the authorities to shift the focus, they added.
The state-level survey is being carried out in 12 districts at a time, officials said.
The survey is being conducted by the ICMR – Regional Medical Research Centre for the first time after the expansion of the vaccination programme.
Till August, Odisha has administered 2,17,83,156 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
"As decisions on opening of education institutions and targeting the last mile in immunisation need to be made in the near future, it is crucial to generate evidence on the exposure of children and adolescents, the unvaccinated group, to the virus," a senior member of the survey team told news agency PTI.
"Besides, there is also the need to assess the immunity among the vaccinated group, particularly the healthcare workers," he said.
The serological survey will estimate and compare the age-specific prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the general population and healthcare workers across the state from August 30 to September 20, the official said.
The survey, a first in the state with such a large sample size, is being conducted with funding support from the state Health Department.
"Serological surveys have been useful in making public health policy at the national and state levels," the official said.
"It helps in prioritising resources, planning for progression of the pandemic, imposition and removal lockdowns and other measures," he said.
The vaccination coverage among the public will also be estimated through this survey.
The survey is being conducted in Khurda, Puri, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj and Balasore in the central region, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar and Sundargarh in the northern zone, and Kandhamal, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur in the southern part of the state.
A total of 40 samples from the community (randomly) and 100 from the healthcare workers (purposely) will be collected from 137 clusters across the 12 districts, the official said.
Altogether 6,680 samples - 1,200 from healthcare workers and 5,480 from the community - will be collected.
The community samples comprise of children aged between 6 and 17 (1,644 samples), and adults (3,836), the official said.
In the last 24 hours, Odisha detected 638 new COVID-19 cases and 68 deaths, a Health Department official said.
Among the new patients were 110 children, he said.
The state has so far reported 10,07,750 cases and 7,969 fatalities.
The rate of infection among children was 17.24 per cent as against 15.92 per cent on Tuesday.
Khurda district recorded the highest number of new cases at 260, while Cuttack district alone accounted for 22 deaths.
There are 7,255 active cases in the state at present. So far, 9,92,473 patients have recovered, including 843 on Tuesday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)