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Accelerate testing, Centre tells high-burden states

a covid-19 blood test tube with result of positive on yellow background the X has clipping path and can be removed. COVID-19 testing concept. Antibody tests concept. Image credit: 罗 宏志 / 123rf. COVID-19 cases now number at one million: concept. Testing illustration.
Image credit: 罗 宏志 / 123rf

The Government has instructed multiple states to scale up testing for COVID-19. 

In the Centre’s crosshairs on testing are Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra. They are among the states most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a positivity rate in excess of the national average of 8.4 percent. Of the four states, Maharashtra – India’s worst-affected state – recorded a positivity rate of 21.5 percent based on tests of 52 lakh samples at the time of writing. 

“The number of tests conducted by states has to be seen in tandem with the positivity rate reported by them,” commented Rajesh Bhushan, a Secretary in the Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “If in spite of large-scale testing, a state is seeing higher positivity, it needs to ramp up testing further.”

India’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or simply coronavirus – number at more than five million of which more than a million are active at the time of writing. Its confirmed case count thus far is the second-highest in the world, behind only the United States.

Testing has been an integral component of the country’s strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier reports suggested India was falling behind the rest of the world on COVID-19 testing; in the months since, the Government has taken steps to scale up testing. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in June went so far as to declare that testing for COVID-19 was a must for all who showed symptoms. Wednesday saw Rajya Sabha lawmakers informed that up to 54 million samples were tested for the novel coronavirus as of September 10th, by Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai. 

Also as of September 10th, Rai told Rajya Sabha members that India is home to 15,290 facilities for treatment of COVID-19. He added that states, union territories and centrally-administered hospitals have been supplied with 13.9 million personal protective equipment kits; 102,400 oxygen cylinders (amidst fears of shortages); 34.2 million N95 masks; 29,779 ventilators; and 108.4 million hydroxychloroquine tablets. 

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