In an effort to understand better the pattern of the Covid outbreak in Assam, the state’s health department is undertaking an intensive exercise to test more than three lakh people within three days.
On Monday, the state carried out 1,20,156 tests and over 1.34 lakh tests were conducted on Tuesday. The state government planned to hit similar figures on Wednesday. “Next 2 days also, we’ll conduct 1 lakh+ tests. Compliments to the team,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted on Monday.
Assam has registered over 1.7 lakh Covid-19 cases so far, including 667 deaths. As of Monday, the total tests per million stood at 94,482.
“We are trying to assess the actual extent of the spread of Covid in Assam right now. If we do not ascertain that now and adequate steps are not taken, by the time Durga Puja comes (in October), the situation could be bad,” Lakshmanan S, Assam’s Mission Director of the National Health Mission, told The Indian Express.
Lakshmanan also said that the positivity rate was “very high” among patients turning up at hospitals with symptoms while it was comparatively lower in the community.
“The reality is somewhere between these two extremes — and we are trying to find out exactly what the situation is. Even a serosurvey study would not be the best fit for this purpose — hence, testing extensively, like this, is our best bet,” he said, adding that it might not be a foolproof method but still the best.
The testing exercise covers patients in hospitals, those turning up for tests at the Covid Screening and Counselling Centres (CSCC) in the state, and contacts of those who had tested positive. “Our thrust is to test the contacts of positive persons. We are targeting them, on a large scale,” Lakshmanan said.
In Kamrup (Metro) district, which covers the state capital Guwahati, 90 CSCCs have been opened where people can come and get tested, in addition to the various government hospitals. All government offices and institutions have been taking part in this testing exercise. “In every way possible, including through ads in TV channels and newspapers, we are requesting more and more people to come and get tested,” Lakshmanan said.
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