COVID-19 tests breach 5 crore mark in Karnataka


The State reached another milestone during the pandemic with COVID-19 tests breaching the five crore mark on Saturday. Despite the decline in new cases since the last two months, the State has been conducting an average of one lakh tests daily. With 1,20,073 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, the total number of tests stood at 5,00,31,061 on Saturday.

With this, Karnataka is one of the two States that rank third in the country — after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra — that have tested 8.2 crore and 6.2 crore samples, respectively. While Tamil Nadu has also done over five crore tests, Bihar and Kerala follow with 4.9 crore and 3.7 crore tests, respectively.

From an average 80 tests a day in March last year when the pandemic hit Karnataka, the State tested a total of over one crore samples till November 21, 2020. Subsequently, another one crore samples were tested in four months and on March 17, 2021 the total number of tests breached the two crore mark. By June 3, the total tests crossed three crore and four crore by August 10. Following this, it took 73 days for the State to add another crore tests.

Over 81% of the total 5,00,31,061 tests conducted till date have been done using Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method.

Districts under pressure

In August when restrictions were eased, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had made it clear that restrictions would have to be re-imposed and school reopening would have to be put off in districts where the test positivity rate rose above 2%. Following this, district authorities were compelled to conduct more tests to keep the TPR under 2%.

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Although a target of 1.5 lakh had been fixed, the number of daily tests had reduced in September, ranging between 79,000 and 1.6 lakh. Health officials said this was mainly because people were hesitant to get tested now, especially when they did not have any symptoms.

Recommending a total daily target of 1.1 lakh till November, the TAC suggested that 50,000 tests should be done daily in Bengaluru and 60,000 in the rest of Karnataka.

Half of the 60,000 tests should be in border districts, the TAC recommended. Now, despite a decline in new cases, daily tests have remained around one lakh as per the revised testing targets.

V. Ravi, nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka and member of State’s COVID-19 TAC, said it was important for the State to sustain the same level of testing irrespective of the daily caseload at least till December.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing, said there was a huge hesitancy among people to get tested now. “But sall symptomatics and their families should be tested because family clusters and breakthrough infections are being reported,” he added.

Testing children

As there is an apprehension that the possible third wave of COVID-19 pandemic would affect children more, the TAC had recommended that 10% of the total tests should be compulsorily done on children below age 18. Analysis of one month testing data (September 21 -21 October 2021) showed that out of total testing done, testing in children below 18 years had accounted for 20.8% testing, officials said.



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Sagar Biswas

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