Ensure daily Covid testing targets met: Expert panel to Karnataka govt

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The Covid-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) constituted by the Karnataka government has reminded the latter to ensure daily testing targets are met with nearly 50,000 samples of the total 1.1 lakh tests, recommended till November, to be drawn from Bengaluru alone.

The government had set a target of achieving 1.5 lakh tests daily but the numbers are varying between 78,958 (October 4) and 1,69,319 (October 2).

The Indian Express spoke to several District Health Officers (DHOs), who admitted that the daily testing target for their respective districts was not been met for nearly a month now. “People seem to have developed pique hesitation in sharing details of their contacts these days, with several of the symptomatic patients themselves unwilling to go for a test. This has affected contact tracing to a large extent as in most cases, the number of contacts we can achieve is limited to under 10 these days,” a DHO from a district in north Karnataka said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, virologist and TAC member Dr V Ravi opined it was ideal that a 1:20 ratio for patients to contacts is maintained across the state. “It is imperative that we stick to the basic priorities when it comes to tracing and testing. While we had maintained a 1:40 contact tracing ratio during the first wave, the priority at present should be to test all symptomatic people with an aggressive approach being implemented in tracing contacts. More testing should be done in areas where clusters are reported,” he said.

However, the TAC in its latest report to the government has reduced the set target of 1.5 lakh to 1.1 lakh, citing the fall in overall Test Positivity Rate (TPR) in the state to below 0.5 per cent.

“With a general decline in the number of cases, a revision of testing targets has been sought,” the report stated, mentioning the expert panel’s observation that nearly 40 per cent of the total cases identified daily continue to be from Bengaluru Urban alone.

It also noted that five districts (Bagalkot, Gadag, Haveri, Koppal, Raichur, and Yadgir) were reporting zero cases for many days. The two districts reporting the highest TPR, as on October 9, were Chikkamagaluru (1.25 per cent) and Hassan (1.04 per cent).

The TAC has also recommended that the deficit in testing targets can be mitigated by drawing random samples, including among inter-state arrivals from Kerala and Maharashtra at railway stations and bus stands, home delivery personnel, crowded markets, shopkeepers and restaurant staff.

Meanwhile, the panel further reiterated that 10 per cent of the samples drawn across districts should be from children attending offline classes at schools.

As per the Karnataka Covid-19 War Room, three districts in the state have been testing over 35,000 people per million in the last 10 days. These are Bengaluru Urban (46,963), Kodagu (39,301), and Dakshina Kannada (38,982).

To date, the state has cumulatively tested over 4.9 crore samples of which over 3.4 crore were tested in 2021 alone. Of the total, over 92.59 lakh (18.87 per cent) have been tested using Rapid Antigen (RAT) method.

“In case of deficits of meeting the testing targets, random samples from crowded populations and others like those in closed markets, shopkeepers, caterers, restaurant staff, home delivery personnel, inter-state arrivals from Mahand others should be tested,” the TAC report stated.



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