A man getting tested for Covid-19 at a drive-through facility of a private laboratory in Chandigarh.(Ravi Kumar/HT)
A man getting tested for Covid-19 at a drive-through facility of a private laboratory in Chandigarh.(Ravi Kumar/HT)

Chandigarh lags behind UTs in Covid-19 testing

Puducherry with a population bracket similar to Chandigarh’s has conducted almost double the number of tests
By Amanjeet Singh Salyal, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JUN 23, 2020 12:30 AM IST

A comparison of tests being conducted by all union territories (UTs) across India shows Chandigarh at the bottom of the list with the lowest number of Covid-19 tests.

Among the UTs with a population of less than 15 lakh, Ladakh has conducted the maximum, with 43,816 tests per million and 837 positive cases till Sunday.

Puducherry, with a population bracket similar to Chandigarh’s has conducted almost double the number of tests.

Chandigarh, which is a major transit point for populations of at least three adjoining states is the only UT which has conducted less than 10,000 tests, averaging 68 tests a day, even though it’s close to the 100-day mark since the first case was reported here.

‘Following ICMR guidelines’

The UT health department has in its defence reiterated that tests are being done according to Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines. “Testing is as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research and those fulfilling the criteria are being tested,” UT health secretary Arun Kumar Gupta had said recently.

However, the poor testing rates have been criticised. “It’s beyond understanding why the testing numbers are being kept low, it should be made accessible to citizens” said Dr Neeraj Nagpal, convenor, Medico Action Legal Group.

“This administration should understand that if the outbreak is not contained within the areas or clusters it can spread to the whole city. One possible solution is making testing accessible to all,” he added.

Ramping up testing makes sense, says former PGIMER director

In an ideal scenario where money is not a problem, as many people as possible should be tested, said Dr Yogesh Chawla, former director, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

“Till now symptomatic cases and their contacts are being tested but since the infection has spread, ideally we should test all keeping in view whether our resources permit it. But, its feasibility is an issue not only in India but abroad too. Still, we have some successful stories from South Korea and Taiwan. So, we should test as much as possible to stop the transmission,” Dr Chawla added.

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