India tested 1 million for COVID-19 till 02 May 2020

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Sample collection for COVID-19 testing. Representative Photo.

Enamul Hafiz Latifee compiles,

The number of people tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India crossed a million on Saturday, 02 May 2020 up from 38,914 on 01 April, which takes the number of tests to almost 770 per million of the population. And the number of recoveries crossed 10,000, Hindustan Times reported.

 

On Friday, 01 May 2020, India tested 74,507 samples, of which around 85% of the tests were done at government labs using the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which is the only diagnostic test for COVID-19 approved by the World Health Organization.

“We have made a quantum jump in testing. We plan to ramp it up further to move towards a situation where we can test everyone who needs it. The number of labs doing COVID-19 tests has gone up, with 406 labs — of which 105 are private ones — now testing for COVID-19 across states,” said Mr. C K Mishra, Secretary, Environment, and co-chair of the PM’s high-level committee on preparedness for a medical emergency.

 

The Health Ministry expects testing to cross 100,000 tests a day next week, up from 5,580 a day on 01 April.

 

At another corner of India, in an online interaction organized by the Kerala Health Department, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Deputy Director Dr. Raman R Gangakhedkar on Saturday, 02 May 2020 said the country has evolved a strong COVID-19 testing regime in the last three months and it is now in a position to conduct 1.25 lakh tests a day.

 

RT-PCR is used for the qualitative detection of genetic material called nucleic acid (RNA) from Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and is the most accurate diagnostic test for infection, while other tests, such as rapid antibody tests, are surveillance tools that cannot test for current infection.

Among the 304 government labs, 254 use Real-Time RT PCR systems, 42 use TrueNat machines, and use Gene-Xpert cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test (CBNAAT) for Covid-19. Truenat is a small battery-operated machine that can run 32 to 48 samples and produces results in one hour, while CBNAAT machines are widely available in low-resource rural settings, where it is used to test for tuberculosis.

 

India has added two more high throughput systems that are capable of running 1,100-1,200 tests in one shift to the existing two in Noida and Bhubhaneshwar. “Labs in Noida and Bhubaneshwar already have high-throughput systems, another one has been added to Bangalore, and a new one has arrived, which will be installed in National Centres of Disease Control in Delhi to increase testing capacity further,” said Mishra.

India has testing kits in stock for another 11-12 days, and the threat of interrupted supply of RNA extraction kits from China is being addressed by domestic suppliers, who now provide 70,000-80,000 kits a day. “With local suppliers coming into play, shortages are no longer an overwhelming concern,” said the Health Ministry official.

The Health Ministry has taken steps to address the pendency issue, where labs were taking several days to send back results.

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