Coronavirus testing remains India's Achilles heel, say experts

The milestone of one million cases india crossed on friday is indeed grim but over 6 lakh of them have already recovered, which works out to 63.33% of all positive cases so far.

Published: 18th July 2020 07:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2020 07:32 AM   |  A+A-

swab test swab collection covid

Medical personnel conducting COVID-19 test at ENT govt hospital in Visakhapatnam. (Photo | G Satyanarayana, EPS)

By Express News Service

The milestone of one million cases india crossed on Friday is indeed grim but over 6 lakh of them have already recovered, which works out to 63.33% of all positive cases so far. what is worrying though is non-metropolitan cities with poor health infra now seem to be emerging as the new hotspots

Karnataka with 30,661 active Covid-19 cases now has the third highest active caseload in the country after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh with 18,159 cases has overtaken Delhi, which has 17,407 active cases. Experts point out that with states and towns with poorer healthcare facilities reporting higher caseloads, testing needs to be sharpened urgently.

Testing has for ever been India’s Achilles heel. Even though the country has now tested over 1.3 crore samples with daily testing capacity reaching above 3.2 lakh for the last several days, India’s testing rate is lower than countries like the US, Brazil or the UK. An important way to gauge whether enough tests are being carried out is the test positivity rate, which indicates how many per 100 tested were diagnosed with the virus. The lower it is, the better. On Thursday, the test positivity rate (TPR) in India was above 10%. The WHO suggests the TPR should be under 5

Public health expert Dr Oommen John said that in terms of public health response contact tracing needs to be strengthened. “Also, with 10 lakh cases India should be in the forefront of generating clinical evidence and contributing to the understanding of pathophysiology,” he said. Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said that 10 lakh is just a number. What’s important now is to do everything to slow down the outbreak.

“With a couple of drugs now available and with the experience of a million cases we should have clear treatment protocols based on the stage of disease. This will keep our hospitals available to those most sick and will save lives.” There also appears to be some silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud. “The good news is that the fatality rate is falling,” said Dr Arvinder Singh Soin. “The hospital and ICU recovery rate has improved. Perhaps have become better at treating and the virulence seems to be decreasing”

The number of recovered patients increased by 22,942 over 24 hours to 6,35,757 overall in the country. As per the Covid-19 Resource Center, the states such as Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have recorded high recovery rates, at 70.6% and 68.7% respectively. Delhi too has a high recovery rate, at 82.3%. In contrast, Karnataka and Maharashtra score low, at 38.4% and 55.6%.

Andhra Pradesh has registered a 51% recovery rate while Telangana has 66.5%. The Central government said in a press release on Friday that a strategy of keeping patients who have mild symptoms, or are asymptomatic, in isolation at home has kept hospitals unburdened. The government also said that less than 1.94% of the cases are in ICUs, 0.35% cases are on ventilators and 2.81% cases are on oxygen beds. In actual numbers, there are 6,643 patients in ICUs, about 1,198 on ventilators and 9,623 on oxygen beds across India, according to government data

1.33 CRORE samples tested for the coronavirus so far, according to ICMR

3.2 LAKH samples-a-day testing capacity has been reached recently

The figures put out by the Central government of the Covid-19 tally of states indicate that new cases are rising sharply in Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Cumulatively, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are the top three states in terms of total cases. Here’s how much each state accounts for in India’s total coronavirus tally as of Friday morning

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