Data | India's coronavirus testing rates are among the lowest in the world

Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan scaled up their test rates and contained the spread

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:48 am IST

Published - March 16, 2020 12:53 am IST

Passengers undergo a thermal screening test in the wake of novel coronavirus scare at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, Monday, March 9, 2020.

Passengers undergo a thermal screening test in the wake of novel coronavirus scare at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, Monday, March 9, 2020.

While most of China’s neighbours have been able to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries far from it are seeing an exponential surge in cases. Early testing and wider coverage distinguish such Asian countries from Western countries. However, India is dangerously placed as it has among the lowest testing rates.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

The disease spread varied among continents

The graph shows the number of COVID-19 cases since the 100th case in each country. Many Asian nations (indicated by blue lines) have contained the spread to a large extent, whereas Europe (yellow lines), the Americas (red lines) and West Asia (green lines) are seeing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases

Varying spread

image/svg+xml10,0005,0002,0001,0005002001002610141822IranItalyFranceGermanyU.S.SpainU.K.BelgiumJapanSingaporeHong KongS. KoreaAfter an initialsurge, S. Koreamanaged toCasesDays since 100th caseDenmarkMalaysia'flatten the curve'

More tests meant better results

The graph plots the number of virus tests per million population as of March 9 against the number of COVID-19 cases as of March 13 for nations that have provided this data.

Also read: Europe now ‘epicentre’ of COVID-19 pandemic: WHO

Tests done vs cases recorded

image/svg+xmlTests per million people (Mar. 9)Cases1101001,000Tests per million (As on March 9)1101001,00010,0001101001000ItalyU.K.BahrainU.S.FranceMalaysiaVietnamTurkeyHong KongS. Korea10,0001,000100101India hasconducted theleast no. oftests per mnpopulationTaiwan, though veryclose to China, has< 100 cases
 

Higher test rates meant better results

The graph shows virus tests per million population as of February 4 (indicated by purple circle) and March 9 (pink circle). As of February 4, the testing rates of all nations were similar, but since then, some nations have scaled up the rate of testing by a huge margin and contained the spread of COVID-19.

Also read: South Korea reports 76 new coronavirus cases; airport checks widened

Hong Kong, S. Korea and Taiwan scaled up their test rates and contained the spread, whereas the U.S. and U.K. have not done so and have seen an exponential rise in cases. India too has not scaled up the rate of testing.

Test rates

image/svg+xmlTests per million people1500South KoreaHong KongUKUSAIndia50025004500TaiwanIndiaU.S.U.K.Hong KongSouth Korea4,098648492,1345512
 

Quick response helped contain spread

The graph shows the date on which testing/screening started. While Taiwan and S. Korea initiated this process early, the rest took their time to get going.

Early birds

image/svg+xmlDate when testing/screening was startedJan.3Jan.8Jan.13Jan.18Jan.23South KoreaTaiwanIndiaItalyU.S.U.K.
 

Last word

In India, though the testing rates are abysmal, as of Sunday no spike in disease spread has been reported. But the exponential rise of cases in Western nations, which have similarly low rates of testing, should set the alarm bells ringing.

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