Updated: June 7, 2022 12:14:29 pm
Even though the severity of Covid-19 cases remains mild and very few cases of hospitalisations are reported, the current test positivity rate (TPR) — the number of positive cases out of the total tests conducted — over the past week exceeds five times that of December 2021, when Omicron started proliferating in the third wave.
Over the last week, 54,164 tests were conducted in Mumbai and 4,732 people were identified with Covid-19 taking the total positivity rate (TPR) to 8.7 per cent. By comparison, in the period between December 21-27, 2021, which was the beginning of the third wave, 4,263 individuals tested positive out of the 2,45,538 tests conducted — registering a TPR of 1.7 per cent.
Public health experts believe that due to low testing, many infected patients might be going unreported. Some say since the TPR is high, if the tests were to increase, there could be a sharp rise in cases across the city.
In the past week, active Covid cases in Mumbai have surged two-fold. Data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed that on May 31, the city had 2,526 active cases, which surged to 5,238 on June 6. Despite this, the civic body on average conducted only 7,738 tests during this period. On June 5, the TPR reached 11 per cent in Mumbai with 961 new Covid-19 cases identified out of the 8,778 tests. On June 6, the TPR dropped slightly to 10 per cent with 676 patients being diagnosed as Covid positive out of 6,897 tests.
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Taking note of the inadequate daily testing, Union Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote a letter to the state government last week advising to boost testing. The overall testing of Maharashtra has also dropped by four-fold. In December, over one lakh daily tests were being conducted, which has now plunged to around 25,000. On June 6, succeeded by a weekend, a total of 1,036 cases were identified out of 15,988 tests with 6.4 per cent TPR.
Rajesh Tope, state health minister, while accepting inadequacy in daily testing, said, “We have to improve the testing and we have already instructed all the districts across the state to improve the TPR, which currently stands at 8 per cent.”
Additional municipal commissioner BMC Dr Sanjeev Kumar said they are in the process to increase the testing to 25,000 daily.
However, the low testing may cause underreporting of cases which may have its repercussions, warn health experts. Soumitra Ghosh from the School of Health Systems Studies, TISS said that late diagnosis of confirmed patients may delay the isolation process which might overwhelm the health system with more patients later. “Without acute data, it becomes challenging to gauge the spread of the infection among the crowd. So, in any pandemic, testing holds the first key of the pandemic management and its containment,” he said.
To ascertain the reason behind the sudden surge in cases, the BMC has sent multiple swab samples collected from the new patients to Kasturba Hospital for genome sequencing. The report is expected this week.
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