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Gujarat resists increased testing; accuses AMA of ‘vested interests’

Facing criticism for resisting testing especially those who were asymptomatic, the Gujarat government said on Friday that it was now testing in the range of 14,000 to 15,000, per day (including antigen tests) achieving a 224.53 per day testing per million and had tested in all 6,06,718 samples

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: July 25, 2020 5:49:58 am
gujarat covid-19, amc, amc covid testing, gujarat covid cases, gujarat covid testing, Ahmedabad Medical Association, Gujarat covid testing per million, indian express news Till last week, health officials, including additional director Prakash Vaghela had confirmed that the state has a capacity to conduct 8,000 RTPCR tests per day. (Representational)

Even as the daily Covid-19 bulletin by the Gujarat government on Friday said the state had tested 14,595 samples in the last 24 hours, and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) claimed aggressive antigen testing, the former had told the Gujarat High Court on Thursday that the demand for increased testing from different quarters as is prayed in various public interest litigations, “appears to be not for any public interest but for personal gain/private interest of the members” of the Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA).

Facing criticism for resisting testing especially those who were asymptomatic, the Gujarat government said on Friday that it was now testing in the range of 14,000 to 15,000, per day (including antigen tests) achieving a 224.53 per day testing per million and had tested in all 6,06,718 samples. Till last week, health officials, including additional director Prakash Vaghela had confirmed that the state has a capacity to conduct 8,000 RTPCR tests per day.

In an earlier report filed by the state government on July 16 before the HC, the state had refused to permit testing for whosoever wished to get themselves tested, submitting, “there is no question of allowing all asymptomatic persons to go for Covid-19 testing…,” as it would create “unnecessary treatment burden.”

The latest note on the AMA’s repeated demand to increase testing, filed by government pleader Manisha Shah before the HC on Thursday called the AMA stand “very much ironical”, as in one hand “in past, its members were not agreeable to reduce/fix the ceiling rates for Covid-19 treatment” and that it was only “on account of indulgence of this court that the rates were fixed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation…”

To further establish that increased testing is not agreeable for the state, on whose behalf Shah had filed the note, it was stated that if testing is indeed ramped up, “then the same would directly benefit the members of the applicant association.” The note goes on to say that AMA has “direct vested interest,” with respect to its demand to increase testing in proportion to its population, while adding that seeking increase in testing per day in proportion to population of the state of Gujarat “is not tenable and without any basis.”

“However, the fact remains that more than 13,000 Covid-19 tests are being performed per day in the state of Gujarat,” the reply note before the HC, adds.

The note that contained a day’s breakup of testing distribution among RTPCR and antigen on a day when a total of 14,024 samples were tested showed that statewide 8,682 of these samples were RTPCR tests, while another 5,342 were antigen tests. In the case of AMC, about 57 per cent tests were RTPCR and remaining all were antigen tests.

As a part of its aggressive surveillance and antigen testing in the city, the AMC conducted drives targeting specific communities including religious places, media houses and drivers and helpers of door to door garbage collection at Gota refuge transfer station. AMC officials claimed the antigen testing is conducted based on “intelligent survey” and these are the specific communities like religious places that do not otherwise get covered in the survey and testing of a residential society.

In addition to this, AMC is testing employees of banks and travellers at all eight entry points in the city. This aggressive surveillance and testing will continue in the coming days as well, AMC official stated without disclosing the number of tests being conducted on a daily basis.

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