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Voluntary Covid testing likely to dip under new criterion for restrictions in Kerala

266 wards in 52 local bodies where WIPR is above 10 are already under stringent curbs

Published: 12th August 2021 04:39 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2021 04:39 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The hesitancy among the public to undergo testing is likely to increase as the government is set to add more locations under stringent control from Thursday. The new criterion for imposing lockdown is based on density of positive cases and the low number of testing could make a difference to the classification of the area.Already, 266 wards in 52 local bodies where the Weekly Infection Population Ratio (WIPR) is above 10 are under stringent restrictions. This is set to change as the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority revises the list to include all wards where the WIPR is above 8. 

The health experts have been complaining about the hesitancy of the public in testing and increasing spread within families. They have also warned that the voluntary testing would be lower under the WIPR-based system. The private labs which contribute to the total testing numbers are already witnessing a decline in demand. “Earlier, people in the contact list used to approach us for testing because they wanted to ensure safety. But only those who require a negative test result for travel purposes go to a private lab now,” said Medical Laboratory Owners’ Association state secretary Bejoy V Thomas.

In view of the increasing spread of infection, the state government has decided to increase the vigil during Onam season. However, the health experts said the dependence on a single parameter (percentage of positives) for imposing lockdowns would encourage the tendency to skip testing. They suggested multiple parameters such as the number of seriously ill patients and hospital occupancy to impose stricter curbs for effective containment.

“If we just depend on cases per 1,000, people with symptoms may not go for testing so that the cases per million stay low,” said immunologist and public health expert Dr Padmanabha Shenoy. He suggested a composite method that includes ICU occupancy, week-on-week growth rate and TPR along with cases per 1,000 people. “In the TPR-based method, conducting more tests will help a panchayat reduce the rate and open up. But under the WIPR method, low testing could help it to open up.

However, it will not be that easy for local bodies to make such manipulations,” said Dr Anish T S, member of the Covid management committee and assistant professor at the Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram.

Dr KP Aravindan, pathologist and member of the expert committee on Covid management, said TPR should not be the sole criterion to assess the pandemic situation in the state. He recommended the use of indicators such as the number of seriously ill patients due to Covid as an effective measure to assess the situation. The number of Covid patients admitted in ICUs was 2,075 and on ventilator support 817 on Wednesday. It was 1,980 and 777, respectively, on Tuesday.

NEW METHOD

WIPR is calculated based on the density of infection (number of positives per 1,000 people) in a 
region in a week.
The revision will be made  every week based on 
the WIPR.
The state switched from TPR-based lockdown to WIPR-based curbs on Aug  5

GOVT TO TIGHTEN VIGIL AHEAD OF ONAM 
In view of the increasing spread of infection, the state government has decided to increase the vigil during Onam season. However, the health experts said the dependence on a single parameter (percentage of positives) for imposing lockdowns would encourage the tendency to skip testing



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