Coronavirus: Is India testing enough?

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New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday said that it has so far conducted 1,21,271 tests. The World Health Organisation has also stressed more and more testing. With over 5,000 cases at present in the country, is India testing enough for novel coronavirus?
As every single case needs to be traced in order to contain the highly infectious disease, testing is the only way to get us the answer.
Speaking to IANS, Director of South East Asia region, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said, “On testing, India’s response has been proportionate to the need and the transmission scenario of COVID-19”.
The country has been ramping up its capacities. India is testing all symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days; all symptomatic contacts of lab-confirmed cases; all symptomatic health care workers; all hospitalized patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) and asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case.
Besides all influenza-like cases in hotspot areas are being tested. India has been calibrating its testing strategy as per the changing situation, taking into account scope, need and capacity.
As on Wednesday, there are at least 139 government laboratories in the country accredited by the AICMR and 65 private laboratories that the apex medical research body has approved.
Dr Shalini Pandey, of Accurate diagnostics told IANS: “Of course testing is important in novel Coronavirus, but given that we have a large population, we cannot adopt the South Korea model. They have less population and are medically more equipped than India. No doubt the government is making a lot of efforts in testing, but looking at the huge population it is never going to be enough”.
Sometimes, she said, people also do not cooperate in testing, so it becomes difficult to take massive drives for testing.
“The government is going step-by-step as far as the testing is concerned. PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies,” she added.
Speaking to IANS, Dr Prashant Nag, Zonal Head of Sterling Accuris Laboratories told IANS, “Testing is a very important part in COVID 19. The number of tests is low right now. I am not saying that every person needs to be tested, but the government should undertake massive testing in the hotspots on priority basis, to understand how much transmission has already happened”.
But right now the main focus of the government is to contain the disease. “The lockdown is a good step, next should be massive testing in areas where even a single case exists,” Nag said.

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