Almost 1 in 3 tested people Covid-19 positive in Delhi this week
Almost one in three persons tested for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Delhi this week had the infection, according to government data. The average positivity rate – the percentage of people who test positive – in Delhi during the week was 30.5% , a number that is perhaps as indicative of the inherent bias in testing (which has only become more marked, especially in Delhi) as it is of the spread of the pandemic in the capital.
The national average positivity rate is around 7%, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Delhi’s positivity rate has been rising rapidly, from an average of 23% in the week ending on June 7, and, before that, an average of 14% the previous week. .
According to government data, 4,900 samples were tested each day on average during this week, down from 5,590 tests a day on average during the week ending June 7, and 6,129 tests a day on average in the week before that.
On Saturday, Delhi recorded 2,134 cases and 57 deaths, the daily bulletin released by the Delhi government showed.
“This just means that currently the numbers are on a rising trend and there is transmission happening in the community. There is no other way the city could record so many cases a day. However, the increasing positivity rate could also be a result of labs testing only those with symptoms. If you test only the people who are likely to have the infection, the positivity rate will of course be high,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at AIIMS, New Delhi.
The Delhi government on June 2 put in place a restrictive testing strategy that excluded asymptomatic contacts of positive cases if they weren’t old or did not have comorbid conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.
Dr Broor recommends lowering the bar for testing to include high-risk asymptomatic people.
“One, we need to do community-level antibody testing in Delhi to understand the burden of the disease. But, when it comes to resource-intensive RT-PCR test, we cannot test every asymptomatic person. However, those at a higher risk such as health care workers, front line workers like paramedical staff and the police, someone who has come in contact with another positive case, or anyone with comorbidities should be allowed to get tested,” said Dr Broor.
Testing norms should be eased, agreed Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine in Delhi’sSafdarjung Hospital. “ Now that the infection is in the community, the government should relax the testing norms and allow people easy access to it.”