Gujarat has scaled down daily testing for Covid-19 this month to fewer than 60,000 samples, even as the numbers across the country are the same as early September, ranging between nine lakh and 11 lakh tests per day. The maximum tests held in Gujarat on a single day is 85,600 on September 17. With the dip in testing, test positivity rate, too, has marginally increased.
Since October 6, the state is testing samples between 51,000 and 52,000 per day, similar to the testing held between August 14 and 18, and thereafter increased testing to fewer than 60,000 samples per day.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Principal secretary, health, Jayanti Ravi, said that there was no requirement of testing more than what is necessary. “We look at the severity and (test) positivity (rate) with vacant (hospital) beds, number of calls to 108 (ambulance) and number of calls to 104 (Covid-19 helpline). Depending on these, the testing numbers are decided… we are maintaining a good test per million and we do not see the need to continue with high testing numbers (as before)…,” said Ravi.
She said since the “(Covid-19) situation has improved in the state and critical patients are fewer, putting hospitals in comfortable position”, testing more than the existing level of 51,000-52,000 samples a day was not necessary.
From September 1 to 15, daily sample testing ranged between 72,000 and 78,000, which was followed by two days of testing 85,000 samples each. It dropped to 69,000 on September 19 and since then it has seen a further decline, ranging between 60,000 and 62,000.
During September 18 – 22 and September 25 – 28, the state was consistently reporting over 1,400 cases daily. As of September 28, only 16 ICU beds with ventilators were vacant across the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)-requisitioned private hospitals, indicating high occupancy level in Ahmedabad city. On Monday, the number of cases dropped to less than 1,200 and the casualty rate also steadily declined last week.
In October, the state reported around 1,300 cases each day, with test positivity rate hovering around 2.4 per cent in the past week. In the first week of September, the test positivity rate stood at around 1.7 per cent.
A state health official attributes this marginal increase in test positivity rate and drastic decline in the daily testing rate to the influx of migrant workers that led to targeted testing among specific demography.
“We were deploying widespread testing in textile and diamond industries in Surat. Initially, these tests itself comprised 4,000-odd tests each day in Surat. Testings were also conducted at checkpoints, construction sites, etc., which have been reduced now. Our testing at hospitals and urban health centres remain the same as before.”
This also indicates that the AMC has not continued with the testing drives at construction sites and offices. The number of micro-containment zones declared this month is around 10-odd areas designated each day or fewer.
An AMC health official said, “We have seen a decline in test positivity rate and we have observed that a minimum number of cases are reported from the central and north zone.” The official suggested that it may be because of the early infections reported from central and north zones of AMC.
The AMC believes that testing kiosks set up across the city are more popular than UHCs or hospitals. “We realised that people are apprehensive of getting tested at UHCs and hospitals, primarily perhaps of a fear of contracting infection. Kiosks have made it easier.”
Ravi added that state-wide, the inhibition or stigma around getting tested or apprehension of contracting infection while waiting in a queue to get tested has “seen a lot of improvement”, owing to the health department’s campaign and chief minister’s slogan of “Test is Best”.
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