Positivity rate across Maharashtra different due to varying RAT data: Officials

Fifteen districts in Maharashtra have a positivity rate of less than 10 per cent, reveals the rapid antigen test (RAT) data provided by the state health department. Health experts attributed this fall to the more number of RAT tests conducted in these districts. However, state health officials said the positivity rate is not uniform it varies from district to district.

Since July, the state health department has conducted 6,75,035 rapid antigen tests (RAT) all across the 36 districts till August 13. The overall positivity rate of the state is 12.28%. According to the data, Ratnagiri has recorded the highest positivity rate with 37.19 per cent, followed by Parbhani (32.46%), Pune (22.84%), Kolhapur (21.81%) and Jalgoan (20.29%).

However, the Mumbai which was the epicentre of Covid-19 has recorded one of the lowest positivity rates in the state which is only 5 per cent. A total of 50,462 have been tested with RAT and only 2,531 have come positive. However, the Mumbai suburban has recorded a 12.82% positivity rate.

“It is a good sign for Mumbai as earlier we had the highest positivity rate compared to other districts of the state. But since we have made changes in the testing strategies, the whole scenario has changed. Currently, the overall positivity rate of Mumbai is 20 per cent and per day positivity rate is between 12 to 15 per cent,” said Dr. Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer.

She further said that since lockdown relaxation, they were expecting the cases to increase due to which the positivity rate would also increase. But they have witnessed a static number of cases over the past few weeks. “This has helped us to increase the daily testing to over 10,000 samples. Earlier, we started it at the northern wards of Mumbai and a few Covid-19 specific hospitals but now, it is being conducted in all wards,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.

While RT-PCR is considered the standard for detection of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, the rapid antigen test was allowed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in June to boost testing. Unlike RT-PCR, rapid antigen tests give results within 30 minutes. They come with a rider, though, of higher false negativity and can miss up to 50 per cent cases. Due to the lower accuracy, the ICMR advises its use in symptomatic patients or in containment zones.

Dr. Sadhan Tayade, director of Directorate of Health Services, said that there is no uniformity in the positivity rate as each district has a different figure depending on the number of testing they carried.

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Free Press Journal