Updated: June 8, 2020 10:17:12 pm
At a time when India has ramped up its Covid-19 tests to more than a lakh per day, data from Johns Hopkins University shows the country has the sixth-highest average daily positivity rate of 8.73 per cent. However, the positivity rate is leas than a fourth of Brazil, which tops the list with 36.68 per cent, even though the South American country has conducted more Covid-19 tests than India.
Besides Brazil, India’s cumulative positivity rate is lower than Mexico (17.17 per cent), Sweden (14.67 per cent), US (13.83 per cent) and UK (13.01 per cent) as on June 7.
Test positivity rate is the percentage of tests that are turning out to be positive for the novel coronavirus. If the rate is too high, it indicates that only the sickest are being tested and a large section of the population could be missing out.
India’s rate is higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended rate of below 5 per cent, indicating that a large section of the population could be missing out on testing.
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According to the data, besides India and Brazil, five other countries have a positivity rate higher than the WHO limit — Mexico, Sweden, US, UK, and Canada. The WHO guidelines state that governments should see positivity rates below 5 per cent for at least 14 days before relaxing social distancing measures.
India’s positivity rate jumped from 3 per cent on April 29 to to 7 per cent on May 23. This upward trend in positivity comes in the backdrop of increased reverse migration of migrants from cities, which are mostly in the red zone, to their native villages.
Moreover, India fares the worst among the top 10 affected countries when it comes to the average daily number of tests per 100,000 population. According to the JHU data, India’s all-time average daily tests has been 1 per 100,000 population since the outbreak and is closely followed by Mexico (2 per 100,000 population).
Spain tops the list, testing an average of 82 people per 100,000 population daily, followed by Australia (79 per 100k) and New Zealand (67 per 100k). But then these are also countries with populations smaller than most Indian states.
However, the testing numbers in India have steadily improved in the last two months — from under 30,000 daily in mid-April to over 1 lakh tests now. The data comes even as the debate on testing has been going on since the outbreak started in India in the beginning of March.
Last week, the ICMR revised the testing strategy, mandating that states will have to additionally test all hospitalised patients who develop influenza-like illness, migrants with symptoms and symptomatic frontline workers. Only direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case will be tested even if they are asymptomatic.
The novel coronavirus toll rose to 7,200, with 271 more deaths, and the number of infections climbed to 2,56,611 in India on Monday after a single-day spike of 9,983 cases, the Health Ministry data revealed. The country has been registering over 9,000 cases for the fifth day in a row.
According to the ICMR, a total of 47,74,434 samples have been tested till 9 am on June 8, with 1,08,048 samples being tested in the last 24 hours.
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