COVID-19 testing in Karnataka at a low, to pick up soon

To address the issue of low testing, the state will begin using rapid test kits.

Published: 13th April 2020 07:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2020 10:20 AM   |  A+A-

A pourakarmika gets her temperature checked by a health worker in Padarayanapura in Bengaluru on Sunday | pandarinath b

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  From reporting the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country on March 23 to taking itself off the list of top 10 states, Karnataka is making quick progress in bringing the growth rate of new cases down. While the state’s use of technology to identify, trace, test and treat suspected cases of COVID19 has received much praise, its testing rates are still low, although in tandem with the national average.

As of 5 pm on Sunday, 9,251 samples had been collected in the state. Of which, 8,831 tested negative and 232 positive. Results are awaited or samples have not been tested due to technical reasons for about 188 samples.

Based on the 2011 census numbers, the projection of population for Karnataka in 2019 was 6,95,78,100, according to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Karnataka. Going by those numbers, total samples tested so far -- 9,063 -- stand at 131 per million population. As on April 11, the country’s testing average was 133/million people.

While samples in districts like Mysuru, Shivamogga and Bengaluru that have virology labs are being tested real-time, districts like Belagavi, Dharwad and Kolar have a huge backlog. “It takes about three days for samples taken from Belagavi to get results. The samples have to be sent to Bengaluru, Shivamogga, Manipal etc for testing,” said Dr Anjali Nimbalkar, MLA, Khanapur.

In Kalaburagi, where a lab became functional two weeks ago, samples waiting for results are 53 and in Dharwad, it is 106.

To address the issue of low testing, the state will begin using rapid test kits. “We have projected the requirement of rapid test kits at 80,000 to 1 lakh. They will be primarily used for healthcare professionals, in hotspots and fever clinics,” said Dr CN Manjunath, Director of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research and a member of Karnataka government’s COVID expert committee. 

Karnataka's rate of testing slightly under India's average but containment on path

At about 131 samples tested/ million people, Karnataka's rate of testing is slightly under the national average. Even as medical and allied services personnel are pushing for more testing, officials from the health department maintain that Karnataka is throwing up one positive for every 34 tests and that timely lockdown and home isolation has helped achieve the same impact as increased testing.

Karnataka has recorded just about 5.7 per cent growth in the number of COVID19 cases over the last five days, lower than 20 other states. Currently, the state's COVID cases per million population stand at 3.52/million as against Delhi's 63.81/ million. Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayana told The New Indian Express that tests will be extended gradually to people with SARI, pneumonia, influenza. "Primary and secondary contacts of people with conditions will also be tested. We will begin random testing and screening for individuals who are overexposed to huge crowds like vendors in markets," he said.


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