Covid-19 in India: Daily tests up to 700k, 1 million target in sight
ICMR is in the process of ramping up Covid-19 testing in the country. Efforts are underway to make use of some of the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) machines installed in other government labs that are being used for performing other molecular tests. RT-PCR is considered the gold standard of Covid-19 testing.Updated: Aug 10, 2020 03:54 IST
India performed 719,364 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tests on Saturday, taking the total number of daily testing closer to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) target of one million per day by the end of August.
ICMR is in the process of ramping up Covid-19 testing in the country. Efforts are underway to make use of some of the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) machines installed in other government labs that are being used for performing other molecular tests. RT-PCR is considered the gold standard of Covid-19 testing.
“Several measures are being taken to ensure testing capacity meets the target in the coming weeks. The measures include upgrading existing labs by way of increasing testing machines, manpower and also work shifts to be able to run more samples in a day,” said an ICMR official, requesting anonymity.
About 200-odd machines are installed in other labs that can also be used to carry out Covid-19 testing, the official said.” Also, labs of medical colleges that have the basic infrastructure to conduct molecular tests can also be mentored and upgraded to equip them to perform Covid-19 tests. All this is being done to ensure we reach the target of one million as planned,” the official added.
India has performed about 25 million tests since January 22 when Covid-19 testing started with one lab at ICMR’s National Institute of Virology in Pune, Maharashtra.
ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava said last week that the research body had adopted an intelligent and caliberated approach as far as Covid-19 testing was concerned.
“Whenyou look at the overall testing numbers, India is comfortably placed. Most states are performing adequate number of tests, however, there are certain states that are lagging behind where we need to increase testing capacity, and the labs there are being established and testing kits deployed accordingly,” he said.
As on Sunday, August 9, India has 1,402 labs -- 940 government and 462 private labs -- approved to perform Covid-19 testing across the country.
“Such high level of testing will also lead to high number of daily positive cases, however, States have been advised to firmly focus on comprehensive tracking, prompt isolation and effective treatment, following the Centre-led strategy of test, track and treat,” the health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Experts agree that to control the outbreak, aggressive testing is crucial.
“The more you test, the higher will be the number of infected that you will be able to identify. To curtail an infectious disease from spreading, one must be able to identify, through testing, as many infected individuals as possible in time so that they are isolated and put on treatment. It will also ensure they don’t roam around freely within the community and transmit the infection,” said Dr T Jacob John, former head of the virology department, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
The health ministry has held several meetings in the past week to engage with the worst-affected states.
The Covid-19 recovery rate continues to improve steadily, with 53,879 Covid-19 patients having recovered and been discharged in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry data. With this, the total number of recoveries touched 14,80,884 on Sunday, which is at least twice the number of active cases (6,28,747).
The recovery rate of patients under medical supervision either in home isolation or in a hospital has touched 68.78%.
“The number of Covid-19 patients who need hospitalization is low, and most of those who are hospitalized are recovering faster. The percentage of severely ill cases is even lower, which is why the rate of recovery is seeing constant improvement,” said Dr Srikant Sharma, consultant at tje department of medicine in New Delhi’s Moolchand Hospital.