'India faring better than others at 5L-test mark'

NEW DELHI: Though the number of Covid-19 patients in India is rising, the graph is linear and not exponential and could indicate a flattening of the curve as the country’s positive rate remains largely unchanged at 4.5% of those tested even as number of tests conducted daily since March 23 has risen consistently crossing 5,00,000 overall on Wednesday. As of now, on an average more than 35,000 tests are conducted daily.
The government on Thursday said India’s case positivity average is 4.5%, even as testing increased 33 times in the last 30 days. On March 23, 14,915 samples had been tested and the number crossed half a million on April 22. The charts were shared by the empowered committee on testing and health infrastructure for Covid-19 headed by environment secretary C K Mishra.
“The growth of Covid-19 cases has been more or less linear and not exponential; this indicates that the strategies we adopted have succeeded in containing the infection to a particular level,” said Mishra, who said the positivity rate, higher number of tests and comparisons with other nations at the 5,00,000 test mark validated India’s testing strategy.
“During the 30 days of lock down, we have been able to cut transmission, minimise spread and increase the doubling days of Covid-19. We have been able to consistently ramp up our testing and utilise our time preparing for the future in case the virus spreads further,” Mishra said. He also added that testing strategy has not been static and would be further altered depending on the situation regarding the spread of the disease in India.
Highlighting government’s consistent expansion of testing numbers as well as categories as cases started increasing, Mishra said, “One crucial weapon we employed during the 30-day lockdown period is RT-PCR test to ascertain if one has contracted the disease or not.” The Indian Council of Medical Research head Dr Balram Bhargava said the number of labs, both government and private,have grown substantially to more than 300.
Asked if India will reach a peak number of cases by May 3, the last day of the national lock down as of now, Bhargava said, ““It is difficult to say…But we are in a very stable formation…We may have managed to flatten the curve with 4.5% positivity rate.”
Mishra said there was a huge spike in positive cases in many developed countries like UK, US and Italy after each reported a 400th confirmed case. However, India managed to stay on a linear curve rather than witnessing an explosion of cases. There were also countries like South Korea that did better, officials said comparing India’s strategy and status with other countries when it came to parameters like positivity rate.
These countries, Mishra said also reached 5 lakh tests at a much higher incidence of positive cases. For instance, US did half a million tests on March 26 when 80,000 cases were found positive; Italy reached that benchmark on March 31 with 1 lakh positive cases. “In India we had conducted half a million tests by April 22 with over 20,000 positive cases,” Mishra said even though he added comparisons were not easy given varying demographics and resources and therefore different strategies.
While highlighting that India’s testing strategy is “focused, targeted and evolving”, Mishra said, “this strategy is a response to a challenge and as the challenge kept expanding, the strategy kept evolving”.
Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said no new Covid-19 cases has been reported from 78 districts in the last 14 days.
He also said, “4,257 Covid-19 patients, which is 19.89 per cent of those infected have been cured so far. In the last 24 hours, 1,409 cases were reported, taking the total number of positive cases to 21,393.”

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