COVID-19 tests breach six crore mark in State

With the total number of COVID-19 tests in the State breaching the six crore mark, Karnataka is third in the country after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra that have done the highest number of tests so far.

Karnataka has tested 6,03,34,514 samples so far, including 4,88,73,290 RT-PCR tests and 1,14,61,224 Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT). While 1,41,96,065 samples were tested in 2020, 4,23,91,357 samples were tested in 2021 and so far 37,47,092 tests have been conducted in 2022.

Although the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has now recommended that the State should go slow on testing, mainly because of the uncontrollable transmission of Omicron, the State has been conducting an average of two lakh tests daily since the last one week. With 2,19,699 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, the total number of tests stood at 6,03,34,514 on Saturday (January 22).

Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar tweeted: “Testing plays a vital role in this battle against pandemic. Karnataka has always been aggressive in testing and tracking and it has been one of our cornerstones in this direction against COVID. Karnataka has now achieved another milestone by crossing 6 crore tests.”

When the pandemic started in early 2020, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) units were used to conduct tests and all samples were sent to NIV centres in Pune. Subsequently, Karnataka gradually established labs across the State and now has about 268 testing facilities (99 government and 169 private) labs.

From an average 80 tests a day in March, 2020, when the pandemic hit Karnataka, the State tested a total of over one crore samples till November 21, 2020. Subsequently, another one crore samples were tested in four months and on March 17, 2021 the total number of tests breached the two crore mark. By June 3, 2021 the total tests crossed three crore and four crore by August 10, 2021. On October 23, 2021 the total number of tests breached the five crore mark. Following this, it took almost three months for the State to add another crore tests. Over 37 lakh tests have been done this month alone.

Over 81% of the total 6,03,34,514 tests conducted till date have been done using Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method. RT-PCR is the gold standard test that has negligible chances of false negativity. The State’s current seven-day average Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is 19.74%. The current tests per million stands at 30,574.

The Minister said that both Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education departments have always religiously followed the 5T strategy of Testing, Tracking, Tracing, Triaging and Technology.

“We have set up 3,678 swab collection centres (including 666 private centres), which is one each for every 20,000 population. We have labs in government hospitals, medical colleges and private hospitals too,” he said.

Pointing out that the State initially had only 10-12 government labs that had COVID testing facilities, Health Minister K. Sudhakar said this had now increased to 57. “With 108 NA Extractors, 139 RT-PCR machines, we have capacity to test 1,20,800 samples per day in government facilities alone,” the Minister said.

“After the Omicron variant was found, we mandated that at least 2% of the tests should be conducted at airports. Then we increased the target to about 80,000 to 1 lakh samples per day. From January 18, our testing target has been increased to 2 lakh per day.” he said.

Following predictions that the third wave could predominantly affect children, the government mandated that at least 2% of the daily tests should be done in children. Out of total tests conducted between December 1 and January 20, 29% of the tests were conducted in children. “We are also conducting random RAT tests in schools, colleges, and restaurants once every fortnight,” the Minister said.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 2:34:02 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/covid-19-tests-breach-six-crore-mark-in-state/article38311830.ece