EVEN AS Pune crossed the one-lakh mark in total Covid-19 cases, the district is on top when it comes to average daily testing among all 36 districts in Maharashtra. Latest figures for a three-day period of July 29 to 31 show that an average of 12,000 people were tested daily as compared to 7,500 in Mumbai and 7,200 in Thane.
Till July 31, out of 4.47 lakh samples tested in Pune – including PMC, PCMC, municipal councils, and cantonments –92,845 tested positive for the novel coronavirus, indicating a positivity rate of 20.75 per cent. State health officials said at present, the average daily testing in Pune was the highest among other districts.
While there were fluctuations on some days, Pune’s average testing per million population is 47,196, officials said. This is much higher than the number of tests per million in Maharashtra, which is an approximate 18,413 while India’s number of tests per million population is 15,740.
Rapid antigen point-of-care test coupled with facilitation of the gold-standard RT-PCR-based testing across 50 laboratories and swab testing centre in Pune, including the apex lab of ICMR-National Institute of Virology (NIV), has resulted in a surge in the number of samples tested.
Dr Priya Abraham, Director of NIV, said they had tested 1,50,352 samples for SARS-CoV-2 to date. Patients with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) were also being tested for other respiratory viruses along with SARS-CoV-2, she added.
In the face of more determined testing, the positivity rate has remained steady at around 20 per cent for some time now. Additional Municipal Commissioner Rubal Agarwal tweeted that the PMC has tested more than three lakh samples and testing in Pune district was the highest in the state.
Health experts, however, said it will take another 10 to 15 days for cases to plateau following which a decline in numbers was expected. They also pointed to a similar trend in Mumbai.
“There are various mathematical modelling exercises being taken up and it is impossible to confidently state this. With phase-wise unlocking and aggressive testing, however, there is bound to be an increase in cases in Pune and rural areas. The trend was seen in Mumbai and a similar trend will be seen in Pune, but it will take a fortnight for cases to plateau,” said Dr Subhash Salunke, chairman of the state technical committee on preventing communicable diseases.
He said there was a need to focus on vulnerable sections of the community and reduce deaths. “We need to pick up cases early, especially for those with co-morbid conditions, and treat them at an early stage of the illness,” Dr Salunkhe said.
Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant health officer, PMC, said more determined testing was among the major strategies to identify Covid-19 cases. “By testing more, we know how far we have been efficient in controlling the spread,” he said.
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