Covid-19: Punjab fails to ramp up testing despite capacity
Daily sample collection nearly the same as was in first week of month despite CM’s direction to health department take it to 6,000 by May 15Updated: May 24, 2020 01:26 IST
Even as Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh in the first week of this month asked the health department to ramp up Covid-19 testing to 6,000 a day by May 15, there is hardly any visible change on the ground as the state is now lagging behind the national average on this count.
The state is conducting almost the similar number of tests it was doing in the first week of May, shows the daily status report compiled under the Integrated Diseases Surveillance Programme (IDSP) of the health department till May 21.
Maximum 2,975 daily tests done
As of now, the maximum number of samples the state collected was on May 7 at 2,975. Three days later, only 1,258 samples were collected, with the figure going down to May’s lowest at 907, data reveals.
The state’s testing started getting a little momentum May 18 onwards with the collection of 2,289 samples on May 21. But the daily analysis report says that in the past seven days, the rate of cumulative samples collected per day increasing at an average of 3.2% everyday.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, state nodal officer for Covid-19, said the health department is conducting tests among all categories of the population as directed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health and family welfare ministry.
“Tests are being conducted as per norms, be it direct contacts of the positive patients, pregnant women, frontline health workers and police personnel or the routine patients visiting flu corners in civil hospitals,” Dr Bhaskar said.
Experts, however, question the state’s failure to conduct tests according to daily capacity.
‘Testing key to check infection’
“Expert have repeatedly emphasised that testing is the key to check the spread of the virus as most patients remain asymptomatic. I fail to understand as why the state is lagging behind despite capacity,” a retired civil surgeon said.
No major improvement in daily sample collection is also reflecting on Punjab’s figures in comparison with the national average and state’s testing per million on May 21 was 1,927 samples
Against the national average of 1,942 tests per million, Punjab collected 1,927 samples on May 21.
The state’s testing figure per million started getting better than the national average on May 6. But it started going down May 14 onwards. The state collected 1,865 tests per million on May 20, equal to the national average.
Better than Kerala, way behind Haryana
On the testing-per-million parameter, Punjab (1,927 on May 21) is doing better than Kerala (1,399) but is way behind neighbouring Haryana whose figure for the same is 2,876.
Till May 21, the state conducted a total of 59,618 tests whereas Haryana did 88,138.
Ludhiana tops chart, Pathankot on bottom
Ludhiana district tops in the number of tests with 6,096 samples tested till May 21. Jalandhar is second with 6,061 samples followed by Amritsar at 3,876 tests. Rupnagar (1,663), Kapurthala (1,597) and Pathankot (1,375) districts have conducted relatively lesser number of tests.