Just like oxymeters were in great demand during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the third wave is seeing a sharp increase in demand for self-testing kits. City chemists say there has been huge rush to buy these kits, which can be used by people to check their infection status.
Hasmukh Rawal, Managing Director of Mylab Discovery Solutions, the firm that developed one of the first self-test kits in the country, said the demand had picked up in December itself as the Omicron variant spread quickly in other countries, and has gathered further pace in the last few days.
“The sale of our kit in December was double than that of November. The biggest demand has been in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. It is in great demand in major metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata,” he said.
Anil Belkar, Secretary of Pune district association of chemists, also confirmed the trend. “Both the sales as well as enquiry about these self-testing kits has gone up significantly in the last few days,” he said.
Self-testing kits are not as robust as RT-PCR tests but are very useful for quick status check, especially because of the rush at the laboratories due to rapidly rising case numbers. On Friday, more than 30,000 samples were tested in Pune district, the highest in several months.
The district reported 4,415 new infections, a 21 per cent rise over Thursday’s 3,648 discoveries.
Diagnostic laboratories say the number of people coming in for RT-PCR tests has more than tripled in the last one week.
“The positivity rate, which had fallen below five per cent, a few weeks ago has gone up to over 25 per cent in some places in the district. While there has been an overall increase in the total number of tests, the positivity has also gone up sharply,” Dr Awanti Gowilkar Mehendale, director and chief of laboratory at A G Diagnostics, said.
Dr Mehendale said there were large number of re-infection cases. “This was not there earlier. Probably, the immunity gained from earlier infection is no longer effective. The positive aspect is that the symptoms are still mild. During the previous wave, the inflammatory markers were really high and several people had moderate to severe disease. This time, the severe cases are much fewer,” she said.
On Friday, 709 patients were declared to have recovered from the disease, while five deaths were reported — two each from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune rural while one came from Councils (NP).
Areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation reported 2,757 cases on Monday, followed by PCMC (1,000), Pune rural (454), Councils (NP) (115) and Cantonment (89).
There are now more than 15,000 active cases in the district, with over 9,000 residing in the PMC areas.