Ghaziabad to start week-long antigen test drive from July 1Updated: Jun 28, 2020, 22:39 IST
Ghaziabad Amid the rising number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the district, the health department has decided to launch a week-long rapid antigen testing drive from July 1, wherein about 500 tests will be conducted daily, officials said.
According to the officials, they have been able to conduct about 250 tests per day during the ongoing antigen testing which started on Friday.
Till Sunday, a total of 716 tests through of regular antigen testing were done, of which 64 came out positive. The officials said that 37 of the 64 positive results came during testing on Sunday alone, in areas such as Indirpauram and Vaishali, among others.
“At present, our average antigen testing is about 250 per day and we will scale it mandatorily to 500 tests per day during the week-long drive. During the drive, we will focus on areas of Indirpauram, Vaishali, Vasundhara and Kaushambi, among others, as they have a high number of cases. We are working on composition of teams that will include lab technicians. Such teams will be deployed at convenient locations near several containment zones. Currently, we have only about 25 lab technicians with us who are also involved in sampling for RT-PCR tests,” said Dr NK Gupta, chief medical officer.
Recently, 8,000 antigen test kits were provided by the state government to ramp up testing in containment zones.
“Once the result of an antigen test comes out positive, it is counted as ‘true’ positive. But for the rest, we again take samples and send them for RT-PCR tests to confirm ‘true’ negative. The antigen testing will be separate from our regular RT-PCR sampling, which is about 450 per day at present,” Gupta said.
Till June 28, Ghaziabad had a total of 1393 cases (60 fresh), cases, which included 50 deaths so far and 715 active cases. In past 24 hours, 25 patients were discharged.
According to government records, the district could take only 149 samples for Covid-19 test in March, 2,729 in April, 7,106 in May and about 8,500 in June, so far. These figures bring the total number of samples collected so far to 18,500, which is not even 1% of the estimated 42 lakh population of the district.
The UP government on Saturday had announced one-week-long special door-to-door surveillance activities in order to identify the suspected cases and people having comorbidities.
According to state officials, the antigen testing drive will start from the Meerut division which includes six districts, which has been provided with a total of 30,000 antigen test kits. Health teams will be scanning for cases of influenza like illness (ILI) in containment zones while cases of and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) will be taken up in non-containment zones, they said.
“In all areas, we will trace people having comorbid conditions, and will also be doing risk profiling of aged persons. Our teams will also be alerting them about safety and precautions to be taken up,” said Amit Mohan Prasad, UP’s principal secretary (health).
Residents seek nod for home isolation
Meanwhile, several residents in the district have claimed that people are not coming forward for tests as Uttar Pradesh is yet to give nod for home isolation of Covid-19 positive patients.
“There was a positive case in my office and it was essential for me to go for a Covid-19 test. But I decided against it as the state has no norm for home isolation of positive patients, and I didn’t want to land in a government hospital. In places like Delhi, home isolation is allowed,” said a resident of Ahimsa Khand in Indirapuram, who is an engineer with a company in Noida, asking not to be named.
“Not everyone can afford the bills of private health care facilities. So, many people are not willing to take up Covid-19 tests in Ghaziabad,” he added.
In a recent instance, a couple who tested positive for Covid-19 in Shakti Khand, Indirapuram, left for their other house in Delhi as they did not wish to go to a government hospital in Ghaziabad. “The couple has a six-month-old baby. So, they locked their Indirapuram home and stayed in home isolation at their other house in Delhi,” said Indirapuram resident Kuldeep Saxena, who knows about the couple.
Alok Kumar, founder member of the federation of apartment owners’ associations in Ghaziabad, said he has written to the UP health department and Ghaziabad officials to allow home isolation.
“We have given them a proposal. If they allow home isolation of asymptomatic positive patients, many societies in the city are willing to come up with in-house isolation facility. We will also arrange equipment like infrared thermometers, pulse oxymeters, etc. This will be beneficial for residents and will also lessen burden on health care facilities. Besides, home isolation is allowed as per guidelines of Ministry of Home Affairs,” Kumar added.
Health officials said they also agree that the burden on health care infrastructure will lessen in case home isolation is allowed. “We have received a number of requests to allow home isolation facilities at high-rises. Since it is a policy decision, it cannot be taken up at the local level,” CMO Gupta said.