FOR THE state medical education secretary, what is worrying is not the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. “Earlier, less than two per cent of a positive patient’s high-risk contacts were testing positive. Today, it is 16 per cent and not showing a plateau,” Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, Secretary, medical education and drugs department, told The Indian Express.
On Friday, out of 5,22,946 laboratory samples, a total of 80,229 tested positive. The number of tests per 10 lakh population is 3,827 in the state while it is 2,832 in the country. Presently, there are 42,215 active cases in the state, while 35,156 have recovered and been discharged.
“We have the capacity to perform more than 35,000 tests daily. The aim is to create enough capacity, as many as 100 labs, so at least 50,000 Covid-19 tests can be conducted daily. However, testing for the sake of it misses the point,” Dr Mukherjee said.
He said the entire point was being missed when arguments were made that despite the capacity, the testing was not enough. “The creation of capacity and setting up labs don’t mean that it has to be utilised cent per cent. We want to create trained manpower and even ensure a lab in each private medical college,” he said.
He also said the protocol laid out by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for Covid-19 testing was being followed, which was a robust and scientific protocol against random testing and had listed some eight criteria/requirements for a person to get tested. “By keeping the testing protocol robust, it has enabled a time series analysis,” Dr Mukherjee said.
There are 86 functional labs for Covid-19 diagnosis, with 46 of them in the government sector. Maharashtra has the maximum number of testing labs and testing capacity in the country.
“From two labs in March with a capacity of 500, we are at 86 labs with a capacity of 35,000. The aim is to create the resource so that a person, who is qualified to be tested as per ICMR protocol, is not deprived of it, and we have created the capacity to achieve that,” Dr Mukherjee said.
He said the target was to test everyone who deserved to be tested, and not the whole population. “That’s exactly what we are doing. Targeted testing as per ICMR protocol is what we are doing,” he added.
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