Puducherry COVID-19 testing rate one of the highest in the country, says Chief Minister

The Chief Minister also requested the cooperation of JIPMER, an institute of national importance, in combating the spread of COVID-19

August 21, 2020 11:44 am | Updated 11:44 am IST - PUDUCHERRY

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Photograph used for representational purposes only

Offering a divergent take on the assessment made by the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research that the Union Territory has the highest number of COVID-19 cases per million in the country, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on Friday said detection of novel coronavirus cases was high due to the testing rate in the UT, which is one of the highest in the country.

“As per norms, we should have conducted around 20,000 tests for our population size. Instead, we have conducted more than 60,000 tests. As of now we are carrying out around 1,000 tests which will be scaled up considerably in the coming days as we start receiving necessary kits,” the Chief Minister told The Hindu when asked to comment on the alarming COVID-19 assessment made by JIPMER for Puducherry.

Rakesh Aggarwal, JIPMER director had stated on Thursday that in recent days the COVID-19 burden in Puducherry had grown to become the highest in the country on a cases per million basis. He had also said the current doubling time of 14 days for cases was one of the quickest in the country.

As of August 20, the overall COVID-19 tally in the UT was 9,292 cases with the samples tested aggregating 59,757.

JIPMER being an institute of national importance, the Chief Minister said the government expects more “cooperation” from the institute in containing the spread of virus. Given the space, resource and facilities available with JIPMER, the hospital authorities could considerably increase bed capacity and accommodate more patients. The institute has now set aside around 350 beds for COVID-19 patients, he added.

“I will request Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare to prevail upon the hospital management to work in close coordination with the territorial administration. Given our resource constraints, we need support of an institute with such eminence,” Mr. Narayanasamy said.

Describing his recent meeting with Chief Scientist, World Health Organisation, Soumya Swaminathan as extremely productive, the Chief Minister said the suggestions mooted by her including improved contact tracing, aggressive testing and constant care for patients under home isolation -- were implemented by the Health Department. He also ruled out imposing a complete lockdown in the UT. “As of now, we will continue with the lockdown on Tuesdays. We are not in a sound financial position to implement another round of lockdown,” the Chief Minister added.

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