COVID-19 | Tests cover 20% of Puducherry’s population

Safety protocol: Employees of a hotel, which is set to reopen on Friday on Beach Promenade, waiting for COVID-19 test in Puducherry on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: S_S_KUMAR

Puducherry on Thursday crossed an important COVID-19 milestone — 20% of its approximately 15 lakh population has been tested.

The health department has done 3,01,167 tests, of which 2,62,971 returned negative results as on October 29.

On October 1, Puducherry had led the country clocking 3,705 tests per day per million of population, according to data provided by the health department as against 2,996 tests by Delhi and 1,685 tests by Kerala. Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao told a press meet that this was the highest testing rate in the country as yet.

On Thursday, 181 new cases had been detected from 4,001 tests to raise the overall tally to 34,761 cases. And after 142 patients were discharged, the cumulative total of recovered patients was 30,449.

Puducherry and Mahe recorded two deaths in the last 24 hours taking the toll to 592. The number of active cases is 3,720, including 2,123 patients under home isolation. The test positivity rate was 4.52%, the case fatality rate 1.70% and the recovery rate 87.60%, the Minister said.

Health Secretary T. Arun said going forward the daily testing average would continue to be maintained between 4,000 to 5,000 tests.

In fact, stepping up testing has been central to putting a lid on the spread of the pandemic in the U.T. through early detection, isolation and treatment and timely contact tracing, officials said.

Simultaneously, the opening of a cluster of fever clinics helped identify and test symptomatic patients early and get COVID-19 patients to hospital without delay and cut down case fatality rate from the peak level of 1.90% in August. “Our test positivity rates have come down to 7 to 8% from nearly 40% a couple of months ago coinciding with the reopening of more sectors. The focus now is to further reduce the positivity rates,” he said.

L-G, ICMR experts meet

Meanwhile, ICMR experts, who had a virtual meeting with the Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi, have called for a set of measures to consolidate the gains made in the U.T. in controlling the pandemic.

ICMR senior scientist Prabhdeep Kaur said while overall positivity rate was declining in the U.T., the RT-PCR positivity was not coming down enough.

She said suggested strengthening the surveillance by cluster testing to identify areas or pockets where the disease transmission remained high due to which the RT-PCR positivity was not coming down. With the dip in number of positive cases, tracing of secondary/extended contact should be strengthened to prevent formation clusters.

The ICMR recommended that the health teams do rigorous tracing of the source of infection, whether it was markets, restaurants, bars, offices or industrial units.

Periodic check-ups to monitor students’ health was recommended.

Distribution of masks free of cost at places of congestion was mooted at the meeting.

Behaviour survey

The ICMR team has suggested a COVID behaviour survey in Puducherry on the lines of the one conducted in Chennai where it was found that while mask compliance was low at 30%, 50% among this group was wearing it in improper manner.

Ms. Bedi directed measures along the lines recommended by the experts keeping in mind the recovery situation the Union Territory was in and the imperative of additional qualitative measures to avoid the risk of slippages.

“Future reviews shall factor in the action taken on the specific steps she has suggested,” Ms. Bedi said.

With adherence to the recommendations, which had helped bring down COVID morbidity-mortality in the U.T., the rate of infection could be maintained at below 5%, the Lt. Governor added.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 10:16:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/covid-19-tests-cover-20-of-puducherrys-population/article32977038.ece

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