BHUBANESWAR: Inexplicable it may seem, Odisha government has been reducing the number of tests even as the new Covid-19 cases continued to surge triggering a second wave in the State.From 30,716 tests on April 1 to 25,005 on April 5, the number of both RT-PCR and antigen tests has come down by over 16 per cent (pc) when the cases went up to 588 from 461. The share of RT-PCR tests is also not as per the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry.
While during a review last month Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed all states that RT-PCR should make up for 70 pc of the overall Covid tests, Odisha is yet to reach this level and has been conducting around 40 pc RT-PCR tests. Although the Health department claimed that the number of RT-PCR tests rose from a range of 5,000 a day to around 10,000 now, health experts suggested Odisha has to match the number of tests other states have been conducting.
As the number of tests reduced, the test positivity rate soared from 0.5 pc last month to 2.35 pc on Monday. Since early testing, aggressive contact tracing and timely isolation is considered to be the best way of containing Covid-19, the reduction in testing has raised serious questions on the State Government’s strategy to prevent the wave.
The State has an active caseload of 3465. Health authorities, however, claimed that all symptomatic cases are being subjected to RT-PCR test. Additional Chief Secretary of Health PK Mohapatra said 40 pc RT-PCR share is enough as all tests are being conducted by the government unlike other states which have a comfortable share of both the private and government labs.