COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee concerned over testing among children dropping to 3% in Karnataka

At its 125th meeting on September 19, the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee expressed concern over the testing rate of children falling from 9% to 3% in the last few days.

TAC has recommended that the State should ramp up testing levels of children to 10% in the next one week. In the wake of a possible third wave, the State Health Department had earlier announced that 10% of the daily tests would be among children.

“With only 86 of the 95,618 samples collected from students from Class VI to II PU, testing positive for COVID-19, the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) among school children is 0.08% as on September 15. Although this is reassuring, the sampling rate for COVID-19 of school children has dropped from initial 9% to 3%,” the TAC report said.

Following the reopening of schools, children are subjected to random RT-PCR testing regularly.

Asserting the need to maintain the low TPR, the TAC report stated that efforts should be made to further reduce it. Besides, the committee also recommended data segregation and reporting of testing children in urban and rural areas.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said the only way to keep TPR under check is to increase tests.

Asserting that at least 10% of the daily tests should be focussed on children in the 0-18 age group, Dr. Manjunath said that special attention should be given to children as this age group is likely to be hit the most during the third wave.


“In view of the low positivity rate, there is an emerging consensus to start offline full-day classes for Standards VI to VIII. This can be done only if the low TPR is maintained and all current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed,” he said.

Veena V., deputy director, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), said efforts are being made to ramp up testing.

“Our testing staff are regularly visiting schools to take up random testing. Sometimes it is difficult to keep the same pace of testing because some children may not agree to get tested,” she said. She added that instructions had been given to the testing staff to convince children when they visit schools for tests.

However, Prashanth Urs, HOD and senior consultant Neonatologist at Apollo Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, who is part of the State’s Paediatric Technical Committee for preparedness of third wave of COVID-19, said random testing may be ideal to do in schools but parents may panic and stop sending their children to schools.

“It may be advisable to identify symptomatic children and test them. All schools should have a nodal person, who will notify such children to the concerned health authorities so that such cases are followed up at home,” he pointed out.

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Sagar Biswas

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