Covid surge? Blame it on shoddy testing

Experts say indiscipline, lack of sero-survey also to blame; point out that people neither follow guidelines nor seem to care 

Published: 30th August 2020 04:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2020 04:11 AM   |  A+A-

A Pourakarmika gives her sample for a Covid-19 test in Bengaluru | meghana sastry

Express News Service

BENGALURU: It is not just high number of testing, but the manner in which the tests are being  conducted, indiscipline among people and lack of sero-surveillance that have contributed to the jump in Covid-19 cases  every day in the state,  say experts. 

The state’s tally stood at 3,27,076 as on Saturday evening. It recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 8, even as its positivity rate shot up from a negligible 2 per cent in the initial stages to over 12 per cent now. 
Dr Giridhar R Babu, Head of the Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India, and a member of the Karnataka expert committee, pointed out that the sharp rise in Covid -19 numbers cannot be attributed to higher testing alone. 

“There are other multiple reasons which cannot go unnoticed. For instance, with the unlock phases coming into effect, people are moving about and socialising more, leading to the infection spread,” Dr Babu added. Dr S Sachhidanand, Vice-Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, and a member of the clinical expert committee, said that people have not been following the prescribed etiquette and continue to remain ignorant of the Covid-19 situation. 

“In March, when Covid hit Karnataka, we didn’t know what to do. But it’s been five months now, and yet people do not follow the Covid etiquette and do not seem to care. We need to be cautious and safe. If tested positive, one needs to tell the health department about their travel history to be able to trace other contacts. But many fail to do. More awareness campaigns are needed,” he said. Randeep D, Public Health In Charge, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said, “There is a lack of discipline in wearing masks, and maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene.

It is noticed that there are large gatherings for non-essential work and there is an increase in inter-district and interstate movement which has also led to an increase in cases.”Dr Babu pointed to the faulty way in which the tests are being conducted. The focus should be on high-risk and symptomatic patients. But tests are rampantly being carried out on asymptomatic patients and when they test positive, the numbers jump, 
he added. He said that a lack of sero-surveillance also makes keeping tabs on the susceptibility of the population to Covid-19 infection difficult. 

Sero-surveillance measures levels of antibodies against the infection, determining the size of the population previously exposed to the virus. It also exposes immunity levels among the people to better treat those who require treatment the most.Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, and a nodal officer for testing in the state, said, “In Karnataka, the peaking has not yet begun, which is also the reason for cases to increase. However, we expect Covid numbers to peak late September and flattening of the curve by October.”

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