COVID-19 tests breach three crore mark in Karnataka


Karnataka has reached another milestone in its pandemic control measures with COVID-19 tests breaching the three crore mark. With 1,50,168 new samples tested in the last 24 hours, the total number of tests touched 3,01,49,275 on Thursday.

Karnataka is the third State in the country – after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra – to have tested over three crore samples.

The State had tested a total of over one crore samples from March last year when the pandemic hit Karnataka till November 21, 2020. Subsequently, another one crore samples were tested in four months. On March 17, 2021, the total number of tests breached the two crore mark.

Nearly 83% of the total 3,01,49,275 tests conducted till date have been done using the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method. RT-PCR is the gold standard that has negligible chances of false negativity.

Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said Uttar Pradesh leads the chart with five crore tests; U.P. has a population three times that of Karnataka. Maharashtra, which has nearly twice the population of Karnataka, stands second with 3.6 crore tests.

In south India, Karnataka is followed by Tamil Nadu and Kerala. While Tamil Nadu has carried out 2.8 crore tests, the number in Kerala is 2 crore. Andhra Pradesh has carried out 1.9 crore test and Telangana 1.5 crore tests.

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Testing had been ramped up from May 2020. From a total of 3,031 tests in March 2020, the State conducted nearly 16 lakh tests in August. This further went up to nearly 20 lakh tests in September. The tests per million went up from 44,099 on September 1 to 72,541 on September 30. On October 2, the number of tests had touched 50,89,730. The one-crore mark was breached on November 21, 2020 and the two crore mark on March 17, 2021.

V. Ravi, nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka and member of State COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), said, “From five ICMR VRDL testing labs – NIV State unit and VRDL labs in BMCRI, Mysuru, Hassan and Shivamogga – in March, we had 15 labs by April 12, 2020. On April 14, the Prime Minister announced that every district in the country will have one lab by May 31, after which the testing infrastructure was expanded.”

The response was overwhelming. In six months, there was an exponential rise in the number of labs. Currently, a total of 192 centres, including 66 government laboratories, are functional in Karnataka with an average capacity of 1,03,900 tests per day, excluding Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT).

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State COVID-19 task force, said although 1.4 lakh samples being tested daily is a good number, there is a need to further ramp up testing in high-risk districts.



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Sagar Biswas

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