COVID-19: Experts for review of testing strategy only after December
‘It is vital to maintain test positivity rate below 5% till the year-end’; at least eight districts still have a TPR higher than the State average
Although the State’s test positivity rate (TPR) reduced to 3.3% in the last seven days prior to November 7, experts have said it is now vital to maintain a TPR below 5% at least till December-end. This means, for every positive patient, the State should test 20 persons.
The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which discussed this at its recent meeting, has recommended that the State should continue the same momentum of testing at least for the next two months. After that the testing strategy can be reviewed, allowing testing of those who report with symptoms, the TAC has recommended.
Despite a fall in the State’s TPR in the last seven days, at least eight districts still have a TPR higher than the State average. At 5.8%, Vijayapura has the highest TPR followed by Kolar where the TPR is 4%. While Tumakuru has a TPR of 3.9%, the rate has stood at 3.7% in Bengaluru Urban.
At 0.8%, the lowest TPR is in Bidar followed by Gadag, Bagalkot, and Yadgir where the TPR is 1.2% and 1.7%, respectively.
According to the findings of the first round of seroprevalence survey conducted by the State in association with various stakeholders, the surge is yet to occur in four districts apart from BBMP’s Mahadevapura zone. The four districts — Dharwad, Gadag, Chickballapur, and Bagalkot apart from Mahadevapura zone have been found to have the lowest estimated prevalence. Experts said testing should be ramped up in these districts so that positive patients are identified and isolated at the earliest.
V. Ravi, senior professor and head of the Department of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is part of the State’s TAC, said the low positivity rate was a clear sign of decline in the number of cases. “It is, however, important that we maintain the same testing levels at least till December-end,” he said.
“It is very important to sustain a TPR of below 5% for the next two months which means for every positive person, we should test 20 persons. We have recommended that the testing strategy can be reviewed after that. Maybe after that we can start testing only those who report with symptoms,” he said.
C.N. Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, who is the nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said it was essential to maintain the current testing levels of over one lakh per day to ensure that the TPR was below 5% for the next two months. “If that is done, we can review our testing strategy after that,” he said.
Asserting that aggressive testing should be done in all colleges that are slated to reopen soon, he said, “We had recommended aggressive testing in the constituencies where bypolls were held, which the State has taken forward. Now, a similar approach should be followed on college campuses for early tracking and tracing of cases so that further spread can be prevented.”
“Similarly, testing should be ramped up in the four districts and Mahadevapura zone where the estimated overall prevalence is low. The low TPR should not make us complacent, especially because a second wave of the outbreak is expected in February–March. Strict enforcement of precautionary measures now is all the more important,” he added.