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Are states conducting adequate Covid-19 tests? | India News


NEW DELHI: The daily coronavirus test positivity rate has drastically soared in the last few weeks in the country and in some of the worst-affected states.
In Delhi, the positivity rate reached a staggering 30% prompting the government to impose a 6-day lockdown.
The overall positivity rate, which gives an idea of the spread of the virus, has also increased. In the last 12 days, the daily coronavirus positivity rate in India has doubled to 16.69%. The weekly positivity rate, too, has increased in the past month to 13.54%.

A high value of positivity rate suggests high coronavirus infection rate, implying a need for additional testing.
According to World Health Organisation, the positivity rate should remain below 5% for two weeks, before a government could start easing restrictions.
A look at the positivity rate in the 18 worst coronavirus-hit states revealed that only eight states had positivity rate below the stipulated 5% mark. However, it would not be fair to assume that all these eight states are out of danger.
Five states — Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Punjab — out of the above eight states have conducted fewer tests/million of population than the national average.

The inadequate testing is one of the major reasons for the low positivity rate in these five states as levels of testing are not able to keep pace with the level of virus transmission.
On the other hand, there were ten states where the positivity rate was more than the WHO-prescribed limit of 5%.
Delhi appears to be staring at a catastrophe with an over 30% positivity rate. However, the capital is conducting over 3,497 tests per million – one of the highest in the country.

A positivity rate of 30% despite extensive testing is a clear signal that the virus is widespread in the area. Imposition of restrictions is the only way to check this spread.

In Maharashtra, the positivity rate was over 16%. Once again indicating that there is a high level of virus transmission in the state.

West Bengal is among the top 10 worst-hit states in the country. It has a positivity rate of 6.7% and it was conducting 473 tests per million of population — one of the lowest in the country.
The high positivity rate and low testing figures imply that the state government lags in tracking the exact extent of the virus transmission. The ongoing state assembly elections have only exacerbated the problems for the state.

The state of Uttar Pradesh, where several major cities have been grappling with the sudden spike in the number of cases, is conducting 1,008 tests per million.
The state has one of the lowest positivity rates in the country, 2.20%. Having said that, there is an urgent need for the most populated state in the country to drastically ramp up its testing infrastructure.

In Kerala, the positivity rate has crossed the 8% mark, despite extensive testing. The state may have to impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people to check this spread.
Telangana with a test/million figure of 3,703 reported a test positivity rate of 3%. The state appears to have been successful in keeping a check on the transmission of the virus by conducting extensive testing.

The states of Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan are conducting fewer than 1,000 tests per million of population. Despite low positivity rate, the inadequate testing would not let these states ascertain the level of virus transmission.

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