Increasing testing rapidly and early on during an outbreak helps flatten the pandemic curve. This is the lesson from countries that were hit by the coronavirus earlier than India. We take a look at how our states have responded to the health crisis.
Benchmark for testing programme
How to tell if a country is on track to achieve adequate testing for Covid-19? Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage suggests that 10% of all samples testing positive is an ideal benchmark. “The lower the percentage of tests you’re doing that come back positive, the better,” he told NPR in April, basing his 10% figure on WHO recommendations. A low positivity rate (or yield rate) means a country is testing broadly and not just people most likely to have the virus.
How the numbers stack up
INDIA’S overall testing numbers are still low compared with other countries, despite a ramp-up after March. But the testing rates for individual states vary and may have an effect on other pandemic in-dicators such as total cases and deaths. States such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, which have conducted close to or above 200 tests per one lakh people, have reported lower fatality rates (number of deaths divided by total cases). States with lower testing rates, such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal, have relatively higher fatality rates, of-ficial data indicates.Union territories such as Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Jammu & Kashmir have scored high on the testing front. Overall, India is cur-rently testing about 80,000 samples per day through the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reac-tion) test, which is the mainstay of Covid-19 diagnosis, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
100s of New Yorkers staying at home get COVID-19
The whole point of a lockdown is to get people to stay at home and not get infected via human contact. But New York State recently said a study of around a 1,000 coronavirus patients found that most of them were staying at homeThe finding is “shocking to us,” said Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York. In addition, these people did not take public transport earlier and mostly kept to their homes. They were also predominantly older people who were not working.
Text: Aravindakshan S, Design: Sankar Ganesh T, Anshul Shrivastava