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Opinion

Covid-19: Fewer RT-PCR Tests May Take Delhi Off-Guard Again

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The number of RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 has declined in Delhi after a spike last week, data from the past four days shows, raising concerns that any decrease in coronavirus testing efforts could take the capital off guard, as it seems. twice in the past, in case the outbreak starts to resurface.

Currently, case histories show that Delhi has successfully passed its third and most intense wave of infections that peaked in mid-November. The surge in cases at the time put the city’s resources on edge, after which federal and state administrations stepped up testing, as well as the strength of hospital beds.

As a result, the number of daily RT-PCR tests, the gold standard for coronavirus diagnosis, doubled from around 20,000 in mid-November to 40,000 recorded on December 4. However, the number was 35,352 on December 5, before dropping to 32,032 on December 6. In the bulletin of December 7, the figure – which corresponded to a Sunday of the previous day – stood at 21,362 (it was 26,645 the previous Sunday).

Since November 15, the positivity rate has fallen from a high of 13.6% to less than 5% since December 4.

Read also | Delhi: Covid positivity rate registered around 5% six days in a row

“It is very encouraging to see that the positivity rate in Delhi has remained below 5% for almost a week, especially since the government has increased the number of more accurate RT-PCR tests. However, this does not mean that the government can reduce the number of tests, “said Dr. Lalit Kant, former director of the department of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Kant said that keeping the RT-PCR numbers at a higher level was crucial. “If the current number of tests is maintained and the positivity rate remains low, it will instill confidence in people that the number of infections has decreased and that they are aware of the future increase in the number of cases,” he added. , warning against any loosening on this front.

Based on testing analysis and daily case data, Delhi surpassed its first two peaks after increasing testing. However, in both cases, the increase in testing reached a plateau (particularly RT-PCR), followed by the onset of the second and third peaks, highlighting the need for widespread surveillance.

In the past, the Capital has relied heavily on rapid antigen tests, which have lower sensitivity. These may miss up to 50% of cases, masking the true positivity rate and leaving many infected people undetected and at risk of transmitting the virus to others.

According to officials, Delhi is likely to see less RT-PCR evidence on Tuesday. The problem that caused the drop, they said, was due to the blockades at the Delhi borders, as many samples are sent to central government laboratories across the border.

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“There are two laboratories in Noida to which we send a lot of our RT-PCR samples. However, with tomorrow’s Bharat Bandh, it is unlikely that we will be able to send the samples. We have taken steps to store the samples in our cold chain for tomorrow. These will be sent to the laboratory the next morning, ”said a health department official, on condition of anonymity.

Farmers’ protest has also affected sample collection. “The Delhi government had established many sample collection centers at the borders and at ISBT, where collection has stopped at this time,” the official said.

Overall, Delhi was able to increase the number of RT PCR tests from an average of 14,300 tests per day during the first week of November to 32,700 on average each day for the last seven days. The RT-PCR tests represented 28% of the total tests that were being carried out during the first week of November (average of seven days) compared to 45.2% of the tests carried out during the first week of December. The daily test quota peaked at 52% on November 30 and was 40.15% according to the December 7 bulletin.

The increase was mainly due to the substantial increase in Delhi’s sample capacity in central government laboratories, newer machines in many Delhi hospitals, and mobile test vans deployed by the center.

“The central government has given us additional capacity in its laboratories in Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram. Also, there were some private laboratories in the neighboring areas that were not using their full capacity and the Delhi government is now receiving their help, ”said a second official from the Delhi health department.

Existing labs have also been asked to work longer hours, even 24×7, to use 100% of capacity, a third official said.

Officials said they are also trying to alleviate bottlenecks in testing and reporting.

Hindustan Times

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