Home / News / India /  110 mn samples tested, but experts say not enough

India on Monday crossed the milestone of having conducted 110 million covid-19 tests, but public health experts warned this wasn’t enough and that India needs to scale up testing rapidly in order to control the pandemic.

India’s rate of testing remains one of the lowest in the world. It conducts 82,032 tests per 1 million population, compared to 437,318 per 1 million in the US, 492,161 in the UK and 111,163 in China.

“There is a clear trend of new covid-19 infections declining in the country, with 45,321 cases reported in the last 24 hours compared to the peak of 97,859 cases on 16 September. However, the number of daily tests continue to grow at a lower rate. In the initial stages of the pandemic, there was an urgency to scale up tests and a sharp growth was seen in daily tests. But this growth is slowing now," said Himanshu Sikka, lead-nutrition, health and wash, IPE Global, a global healthcare development consultancy .

“Mathematically, this could be because the base has increased. Initially, 1,000 tests per day were done, which necessitated a 100-time growth rate; now the count has increased to 1 million tests per day; so the growth rate requi-red is not that much," he said, adding India needs to focus on increasing testing infra.

Graphic: Mint
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Graphic: Mint

Sikka contrasted the situation in big cities now with that in April, May and June, when, he said, people had to struggle to get a test done. “But the situation might be different in smaller towns—testing infrastructure is not uniformly spread across the country. The smaller towns and districts still have limited testing infrastructure available and shortages are still there," he said.

“States which have bigger infrastructure have to focus on spreading the infrastructure to the district level as well. Besides the pandemic, this will also help improve the district-level capacities and diagnostics for the long-term," he said.

The total number of coronavirus infections reached 8.25 million on Monday, the Union health ministry said. At least 80% of the new cases are concentrated in 10 states and Union territories. Kerala surged to first place with 7,025 new cases, while Delhi and Maharashtra reported more than 5,000 daily new cases.

Currently, the active cases comprise 6.83% of the total positive cases. In a span of just two months, the percentage of active cases have reduced over three times, the government said. On 3 September, the percentage of active cases was at 21.16%.

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