With 86,518 tests conducted per million population, Aurangabad city is performing the maximum number of tests per million in Maharashtra.
The city, which has a population of 11.75 lakh as per the 2011 Census and a substantial number of industrial units, has relied heavily on antigen testing to screen those entering its limits and isolating them before the infection could spread. Till now, Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has conducted 1.03 lakh tests – 67,148 antigen tests and 34,907 RT-PCR tests.
The city has reported 9,827 Covid-19 cases, reflecting a 10 per cent positivity rate. On a daily basis, AMC is conducting around 5,250 tests. Of them, 5,000 are antigen tests.
“When the lockdown began, cases were limited to the city. But when the lockdown restrictions started to be lifted slowly, people started travelling from the city to the rural areas within the district,” said District Health Officer Dr D B Gholap.
Dr Neeta Padalkar, in charge of health in AMC, said: “We are seeing more cases in peri-urban areas and industrial belt. Every day, people commute to and from the city. So, we decided to start testing at the entry points and immediately send a person to a Covid care centre if he or she tests positive.”
An RT-PCR test, which tests the throat and nasal swab for virus, can take 12 to 48 hours to produce results. An antigen test is quick, producing results in half an hour, and cheaper. It is suitable for testing in remote areas and within communities for faster results. Of the total tests conducted in Aurangabad, about 67 per cent are antigen tests.
Aurangabad has installed mobile vans and check posts at six entry points on the city’s periphery. Even those travelling daily to the industrial belt and returning are retested daily.
Padalkar said with a positive case immediately being referred to isolation wards, the city is hoping to cut possible transmission to 10 others who may come in contact with the infected. “Apart from testing at entry points, we are also testing traders, shopowners and milk suppliers. This is a high-risk population. Since most remain asymptomatic, we call them hidden populations. Before they spread the virus to others, we want to identify them,” she added.
Aurangabad has a population is 1.17 million, about 15 times less than Mumbai. While Mumbai is testing 26,975 per million population using RT-PCR tests, Aurangabad is conducting 29,089 tests per million using the same method.
So far, Mumbai has conducted 4.85 lakh RT-PCR tests and found over a lakh positive cases. Aurangabad has conducted 37,904 RT-PCR tests and found 7,694 to be positive. Of the 67,148 people tested through antigen in Aurangabad at entry points and within city, 2,133 have been found to be infected.
State Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said: “Aurangabad may have recorded the highest number of tests per million population not just in the state, but even in the country.”
AMC has recorded 398 deaths so far, with 4.3 per cent fatality rate. Since antigen tests may falsely identify a positive case as negative, those testing negative have to be referred for RT-PCR tests. State health officials said in Aurangabad, they only refer symptomatic or high-risk contacts for RT-PCR if they test negative in antigen test. This saves m money and resources.
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