COVID-19 TPR in Bengaluru Urban plummets to 4.91%
From a COVID-19 Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of nearly 38.32% in the first week of May, the seven-day average from May 31 to June 6 in Bengaluru Urban plummeted to 4.91%. While this is a reason to cheer, experts have said it is vital to sustain this now and continue the existing testing strategy till December.
This is the first time that the TPR in Bengaluru Urban has fallen to below 5% since mid-March, when the second wave began in Karnataka. With this, Bengaluru Urban is one of the six districts that have a TPR of 5% or less, making them eligible for unlocking. The State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) had recommended that the lockdown should be continued till the TPR fell below 5%.
While Bidar had the lowest seven-day average TPR at 0.65%, Kalaburagi and Haveri had a TPR of 2.7% and 3.32%, respectively. Yadgir and Ramanagaram also saw a drop in TPR, at 5.21% and 5.85%, respectively.
There has been a considerable decline in the number of new cases in the past week. The State’s average TPR for the seven days prior to June 6 was 9.23%.
However, what is worrisome is that the TPR in 18 districts was higher than the State average during the period. At 23.75%, Mysuru continued to have the highest TPR, followed by 23.7% in Chikkamagaluru. While five districts had a TPR of over 15%, 11 had a TPR of less than 15% but still above the State average.
Sources said it would be impractical to wait for unlocking till the State’s average TPR fell to under 5%. Although both the ascent and descent of TPR have been more rapid during the second wave, a strategy on unlocking in districts that have a low caseload should be chalked out now. The TAC, which met on Monday, reiterated that the existing testing strategy should continue till December.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and tests in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said that as the disease cannot be uniform in all districts, graded relaxing of lockdown restrictions could be considered when the TPR is between 5% and 10% in a majority of the districts.
“There should be a district-centric unlocking policy. Even when unlocking is considered, it should be in a graded manner with continued restrictions on public, social and religious gatherings, including weddings, till December. Inter-district transport and travel from high-risk to low-risk districts should also be regulated depending on the positivity rate in those districts,” Dr. Manjunath said.
With the TPR in Bengaluru dropping, migrants who had moved out of the city will start returning. “However, it is important that they are tested while they are reporting to work in their sectors. This will help in isolating them in case they are infected,” Dr. Manjunath said.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said the fall in TPR comes with more responsibility on every citizen in the city. “We have to ensure that the number of new cases remains low even after the lockdown restrictions are relaxed. People should continue following COVID-appropriate behaviour all the more now, otherwise it will not take long for the infection to flare up again like it happened in other countries. We have been testing over 60,000 samples every day and we will continue this as of now,” he added.