Covid second wave: Bengaluru to test only symptomatics | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: With testing laboratories overburdened as the Covid second wave rages in Bengaluru, the state government has tweaked its testing strategy for the techcapital — only symptomatic persons and primary contacts will be subjected to tests.
The move, according to officials, is aimed at improving the efficiency of testing laboratories. While laboratories are overloaded with work, the number of people turning up for testing out of fear is compounding the woes of testing personnel.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) chief commissioner Gaurav Gupta, while interacting with apartments associations on Saturday, said: “Only symptomatic cases (those who have fever, cough and breathlessness, among other symptoms) will be tested and not general cases as there is a heavy load on testing labs.”
Concurring with him, a senior BBMP official said: “Given the daily spike in coronavirus cases in the city, it is becoming difficult to test everybody.”
Bengaluru’s positivity rate crossed the 20% mark which means around 20 persons of every 100 tested in the city are infected. “The fear of Covid is so high that people without any symptoms are queueing up for testing,” the official said, adding: “This has a ripple effect on testing capacities of laboratories.”
The official explained that test results, supposed to come out within 24 hours, do not come on time as testing staff are overburdened. Gupta pointed out: “The publication and uploading of test results also gets delayed.” As a result, those with Covid symptoms are not sure of their status and end up going from one hospital to another in search of beds when their condition deteriorates. Top BBMP officials are to be partially blamed for the delayed test results. “Several testing personnel and data entry operators were not paid for months, so a section quit. The ground-level Covid workers were taken for granted,” an expert said.
There have been reports of hospitals shutting the doors on patients for want of test results or designated district numbers (BU number). “So, only the needy, including primary contacts of Covid patients, will be tested,” Gupta added.
Data trackers point out that BBMP has reduced testing in four days following a rapid spiral in positive cases. “Bengaluru was testing 1 lakh people per day in the third week of April and it has currently dropped to 60,000,” an independent data analyst said. While the move to test only symptomatic persons is likely to take the spotlight off Covid mismanagement, it has not been endorsed by public health experts and a section of bureaucrats.
“The more we test, the more effectively we can contain the virus,” said a member of the state technical advisory committee, while emphasising there was a large community spread in Bengaluru. “Though the incubation period of the virus in the first wave was 14 days, we’re not sure about the aggression levels of the virus in the second wave, especially when young persons land up in ICUs and on ventilators. It is prudent to increase testing than confine it only to those symptomatic,” a pulmonologist said.

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Sagar Biswas

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