CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has been testing almost double the number of people for Covid-19 than the nationwide average. A data released by the Chennai Corporation reveals that Tamil Nadu is conducting the tests on 694 people per million of its population as compared to the nationwide average of 363.
The samples tested in the State so far is 1,01,874, with an average of 7,000 samples being tested per day across 41 labs. Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar has said the State aims to raise the daily tests to 10,000 soon. Chennai alone has tested five times more than rest of the State at an average of 3,096 people per million population.
The nationwide average seems to favour Tamil Nadu. However, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh has done well with 830 tests per million, which is 136 more than Tamil Nadu. Kerala had recorded 588 tests per million (as on April 21). The other high-testing states are Maharashtra with 665, Gujarat with 604 and Karnataka with 438 tests per million.
Health Department officials say the high average could be due to categorically testing all types of patients who come to hospitals. “We have been testing people with influenza-like illnesses, Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) cases, and lately, antenatal mothers too,’’ Director of Public Health Dr K Kolandasamy told Express.
Dr Kolandasamy says tests have been done in an objective criteria across districts wherever they are needed. “We have also been monitoring high-risk people and healthcare workers. The strategy is to test, identify, encircle and contain,’’ he adds.
Interestingly, the testing average of most districts in the State has been higher than the national average, with Namakkal, Perambalur, Thirupattur, and Theni districts testing more than 1,000 per million population.
Corporation Commissioner G Prakash says the early micro-level screening has played a huge role in the high testing rate in Chennai.
“We now have the daily data of every street of every ward of every zone. Apart from this, for every positive case identified, our team traces up to 30-35 contacts,’’ says Prakash.
He further says all the cases of influenza-like Illnesses (ILI) arriving at Corporation and private hospitals are being tested. People were excellent in their cooperation, except in a few cases.
Moreover, in some cases, certain people were hiding the information, but later came forward for testing, he adds.
Meanwhile, virology experts note that testing needs to be ramped up wherever there is a high risk of infection.
“Two months ago, the State was not prepared, but now TN has fared better than many other States,’’ says Jacob John, an expert in the field. He, however, adds a note of caution that the numbers are not adequate but are need-based. “If we keep testing more in hotspots, we may find more cases.”
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