The last five days have witnessed a drop in Covid-19 testing. BMC data shows that 1,23,274 tests were conducted from November 1-5, in comparison to 1,80,846 tests from October 26-31, which means a 32 per cent drop in testing. Officials have attributed this drop to the ongoing festival, owing to which people are not coming forward as they are also afraid of being hospitalised.
As per data, the civic body had conducted 32,221 tests on November 1, which further reduced to 29,093 the next day. However, testing rose again to 34,442 on November 3, rising further to 35,018 and then dipping to 24,901 on November 5.
Dr Om Shrivastav, an expert in infectious diseases and a member of the Maharashtra Covid-19 task force, said there has been a drop in daily coronavirus cases and this is not related to a fall in testing. “During the festive season, there has been a reduction in testing, but it will increase in the coming days. There is a need to focus on testing and contact tracing for early diagnosis,” he said.
Mooting the same sentiment, additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said the BMC has directed all ward officers to keep increasing testing despite the festival season. He said in the coming days the BMC is planning nearly 50,000 tests every day.
Experts believe the city needs to keep up high testing numbers despite the lower positivity rate. Dr Rahul Pandit, another member of the task force, said, “Until we have a positivity rate below 2 per cent, testing in high numbers is a better strategy.” This, he said, can be done with contact tracing in large numbers within 24 hours of any detection. “We can target areas that have reported a higher number of cases; like certain wards or localities. Eventually, we will not report cases in clusters and will see isolated positive cases,” he said.
Consulting pulmonologist from Pune’s Jupiter Hospital, Dr Sushrut Ganpule said the Delta variant created a huge challenge for hospitals during the second wave. Now, with cases of the Delta-plus variant (with higher transmissibility) rising across the country, including Maharashtra, higher testing is needed. “We have to be very careful for the next couple of months,” he said.
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