Amid unlock, Karnataka hits low of 1.6 lakh tests a day; vaccine coverage at 6.64 per cent

The Unlock Phase 3 has begun from July 5 and people have started stepping out, but Karnataka is lagging on vaccination and testing fronts, reveals data.

Published: 12th July 2021 04:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2021 04:40 AM   |  A+A-

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a food delivery agent, as part of the Covid testing drive, in Bengaluru| Ashishkrishna HP

Express News Service

BENGALURU : The Unlock Phase 3 has begun from July 5 and people have started stepping out, but Karnataka is lagging on vaccination and testing fronts, reveals data. At the same time, Bengaluru Urban, where the largest number of people are venturing out, has seen an increase in the number of active cases for the first time since May 17 from 13,237 on Saturday to 13,459 on Sunday.

The Health Department data shows that the number of daily tests has steadily declined since July 5. The number of Covid tests on July 7 was 1,66,631, but on July 10 it fell to 1,45,666, though it picked up on Sunday to 1,58,898. But the focus has been on random testing rather than target-based, focussed testing, as suggested by experts.

The total number of tests conducted so far, since the pandemic impacted the state in March 2020, is 3,59,34,618 (over 3.59 crore as on Sunday) against the state’s estimated domicile population of 6.84 crore (including children) and vaccination-targeted population of 7.07 crore (including a large section of migrant workers and floating population). 

Govt should look at RT-PCR, focused testing

The testing percentage works out to 52.46 and 50.77 of domicile and target populat ion, respectively. On the vaccination front, the programme, launched on January 16 this year, has so far seen a 6.64 per cent of the target population (7.07 crore) being vaccinated with both doses. The healthcare workers’ segment has witnessed the largest share of vaccination with 32.27 per cent; above-45 age segment, 22.21 per cent; frontline workers, 1.33 per cent; and 18-45 age segment, 0.70 per cent.

Karnataka has so far administered 2.56 crore doses (first and second shots). But with the Unlock 3 phase starting, experts suggest that the vaccination drive needs to pick up in every district to keep cases low. According to the state war room data, Bengaluru Urban has the highest vaccination coverage at 71.41 per cent, while Udupi district is second with 52.33 per cent. The rest have achieved less than 46 per cent. Raichur has the lowest coverage at 27.29 per cent.

Experts attribute this to hesitancy still prevailing among the population and an intermittent shortage of vaccine supplies to the state. “Tracking of cases and target testing are two important ways to mitigate the pandemic. Ramping up vaccination should be the mantra and the focus should be back on RTPCR-based focussed testing.

The idea is to detect all positive cases and start the treatment soon to delay the third wave. The later the third wave sets in, lesser the danger, because by then, more people would have got vaccinated,” said Dr CN Manjunath, Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, and member of state’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee. Dr Edmond Fernandes, CEO, CHD Group, and a public health expert, said, “The drive needs to pick up in every district, especially where industries, schools and colleges are highly concentrated. Vaccination must be our single answer, while on the sidelines, we should step up bed capacity at hospitals,” he said.


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