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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Decline in number of samples tested in Vadodara, officials say crossing daily target

On Saturday, nine family members of a COVID-19 patient, who tested positive earlier this week, also tested positive. The VMC had tested the nine members only after a representation from the local BJP corporator.

Written by Aditi Raja | Vadodra | Updated: May 11, 2020 9:51:30 am
coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, coronavirus cases in gujarat, gujarat coronavirus tests, coronavirus test in gujarat, indian express news The health officials of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, however, say that the city is well over its target sampling of 100 samples per day. (Representational)

The number of samples tested for COVID-19 has seen a decline in Vadodara for the past one week – while 228 samples were tested on May 4, it has dropped to 125 in the last 24 hours.

Till May 4, more than 200 samples were taken for testing every day, while it has been less than 200 in the last few days.

With 23 new cases being reported on Sunday the district tally has reached 551. Within the last six days, the city has recorded over 150 new cases and an average positive testing rate of around 18%.

The health officials of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, however, say that the city is well over its target sampling of 100 samples per day.

Dr Devesh Patel, Medical Officer of the Health Department of the VMC said, “We are not under testing. Our routine target for daily testing in Vadodara is 100 and we are well above it. The numbers would fluctuate depending on the number of people who come forward to report symptoms. Our focus is on the overall containment strategies at the moment.”

However, the testing numbers have been a subject of contention among several residents, who have been expressing their views on the VMC’s Twitter handles as well as the opposition that has been attacking the BJP-ruled VMC for “under testing” and “painting a better picture” of the city amid the pandemic.

The VMC has been facing flak for not testing close family members of those who have tested positive in the recent days. On Saturday, nine family members of a COVID-19 patient, who tested positive earlier this week, also tested positive. The VMC had tested the nine members only after a representation from the local BJP corporator. But health officials say that with the new guidelines on discharge and home COVID-19 care in place, the question of testing is “irrelevant”.

“The guideline is very clear that all asymptomatic contacts of a positive patient have to be in home quarantine. In the initial days, we tested everyone close to a positive patient, but that is not the case anymore. Only those with symptoms from the contacts of a positive patient will be tested,” an officer in charge of testing in one of the city’s zones said.

An infectious disease specialist from the city, who does not wish to be identified says, “At this point, the testing numbers would hardly matter. We have long crossed the stage where testing people and confining them would curtail numbers. Now, testing is essentially to check who is negative and not to identify positive people. As part of our discussions with the VMC, we have been told to assume that everyone is to be assumed an asymptomatic carrier of the virus at the moment. It is best for everyone to continue to stay in isolation at the moment.”

From Monday, three private labs in Vadodara will start conducting COVID19 tests — Toprani Labs, Divine Lab and the laboratory at Bhailal Amin General Hospital — in addition to the ongoing tests at the government facility at SSG hospital. The overall target of SSG laboratory in Vadodara is 250 per day, including samples from districts like Chhota Udepur, Panchmahals and Narmada

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