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Centre steps up Covid-19 testing across border states


New Delhi: The Centre is stepping up Covid-19 testing across border states with massive troop deployment on the Sino-India border.

The government is concerned that the movement of troops might push up Covid-19 figures in these states, creating another challenge at the front. Over 35,000 troops are said to have moved into Ladakh amid the standoff with China.

As per Ladakh administration, the Union Territory had 30 active cases on May 30, but by June 23, as more and more troops moved in, the number of positive cases soared to 780. Both Kargil and Leh are worry areas as per data.

From 1,000 tests on May 1, Ladakh conducted more than 7,700 tests on July 4, as per Covid19India.org. The Centre, however, intends to step up testing much more.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) last week rushed in rapid antigen testing kits to the Ladakh. ICMR has already set up a testing lab for the RT-PCR in Leh. The UT itself also purchased over 2500 antigen testing kits in June and ICMR is set to add substantively to the number.

Jammu & Kashmir, where cases jumped from 60-70 positive cases on April 1 to 8,400 cases as on date, has also pushed up testing from about 1,500 in the first week of April to 4 lakh as on date.

The new UT – also under heavy deployment – has brought in another 25,000 antigen testing kits recently to further scale up testing. The northeast is also going to see a scaling up of Covid-19 testing. As on July 3, Assam purchased over 2 lakh antigen kits. Tripura is also set to ramp up antigen testing with 25,000 kits.

The worry of the virus spreading among the forces is also real. About 3000 serving personnel across India have tested positive so far. Over 10 have died, including a Brigadier in Kolkata.

Border states apart, the Centre is going to ask states to launch a 2-3 week long mega testing campaign later this month.

“The idea is to weed out positive cases on mission mode and ensure the right treatment, isolation and contact tracing. With the rapid antigen testing kits now available to supplement the RT-PCR testing regime, this is very much possible. It is strongly felt that a two-week campaign across states could help cut transmission in a big way”, a senior official told ET.

Over 27.5 lakh antigen testing kits have been purchased in June across India to increase testing.

While Delhi has purchased the maximum at 11 lakh plus such kits, followed by 4.8 lakh by Maharashtra. The ICMR itself has purchased 2.5 lakh testing kits.

Besides 2 lakh testing kits by Assam, Gujarat, Haryana and Chhattisgarh have also invested in over a lakh kits.

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